Move from confrontation to cooperation, Pakistan asks India

| Envoy hosts Eid Milan | Mirwaiz says there is ‘no option but to engage’

NEW DELHI – The time has come for India and Pakistan to move from “confrontation to cooperation” after 67 years of conflict, Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit said on Tuesday.
“All problems between our countries, including Jammu and Kashmir, must be resolved through talks. Pakistan will leave no stone unturned to improve ties,” Basit said during a brief address at an Eid Milan he hosted at the high commission.
Bilateral relations between the nuclear-armed neighbours appeared to have thawed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif agreed at a recent meeting in Russia to take forward stalled bilateral ties, though frequent border skirmishes continue to test a fragile peace process.
Pakistan is committed to the normalisation of relations, Basit told the gathering that included diplomats, leaders of the moderate Hurriyat faction, clerics and journalists. He expressed the hope amid a spirit of festive bonhomie the two sides will sit together for talks in the coming months.
Abdul Basit said “We want relations to improve. We should live like good neighbours and become an instrument for each other’s development.
“We have seen 67 years of conflict. We should move from confrontation to cooperation. We pray this becomes possible,” he said. Basit expressed hope that in the coming months the two sides will sit and discuss the issues between the two countries.
“Our wish is that all disputes particularly Kashmir should be resolved through dialogue,” he said. He said that under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan wants good ties with India and will do its best to work for a solution to all the disputes.
“We want that the issues between our two nations, especially the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, should be resolved through bilateral talks,” he added.
Basit said that PM Nawaz Sharif is committed to peace between the two countries and that they want to build on the positivity which was reflected in the Russian city of Ufa.
“We all want all issues of importance between Pak and India to be discussed. We hope that very soon our leaders meet and resolve all issues of importance between our two nations,” the high commissioner was quoted as saying by Indian media.
Basit thanked Mirwaiz Umar Farooq for attending the event. The Pakistani envoy said there was “nothing unusual” about the decision to invite Hurriyat leaders to the Eid Milan. “The hype being created by some is unfortunate, to put it mildly. Pakistan will continue extending its full moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir in their legitimate struggle for self-determination,” Basit said.
The Eid Milan was attended by people from various walks of life including Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jamia Masjid, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ilyas Azmi, journalists and academics. Basit especially thanked Mirwaiz for flying from Held Kashmir to attend this programme.
Though Dukhtaran-e-Millat and the hardline Hurriyat faction led by Syed Ali Geelani decided to skip the Eid Milan to register a “token protest against the non-inclusion of Kashmir” in the statement issued after the recent meeting of prime ministers in Russia, moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq struck a pragmatic note at the event, saying there was “no option but to engage”.
Violence had abated in Kashmir but all stakeholders mustn’t wait for the last gun to fall silent, the Mirwaiz said. Some of the youth were still taking to violence because they thought politics had failed and despite a change of govt in the state not much had changed for Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
“In fact the divide between Jammu and Kashmir is increasing,” Mirwaiz said and put the onus on India for taking things forward with Pakistan. “It depends on New Delhi, if it is serious to engage and move forward,” he said and reiterated that the problems of Kashmiris could not be resolved until the two countries came closer.
HURRIYAT UNHAPPY OVER
EXCLUSION OF KASHMIR
Mirwaiz also conveyed unhappiness to Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit over exclusion of Kashmir issue in the recent meeting of the prime ministers.
Mirwaiz conveyed his views to Basit during a meeting with him at the High Commission just after attending the Eid Milan.
The Hurriyat chairman underlined that “by ignoring Kashmir, the talks between India and Pakistan will lead nowhere”.
Unhappy over exclusion of Kashmir in the Modi-Sharif meeting, he told PTI that the issue has to be addressed if the two countries want to build trust.

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