Pushing for resumption of dialogue, Pakistan has suggested that India was not fulfilling its commitment made in the Sharm-el-Sheikh joint statement and relinking talks with action against terrorism.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik said the “diplomatic vacuum” would not help the cause of peace and by not talking to each other, “we are strengthening the forces which don’t want the two countries to make any progress”.
He insisted that Pakistan was not slow in taking action against those behind the Mumbai attacks and contended that his country was “looking for credible actionable evidence” to ensure that the case is “fool-proof”.
Referring to the “agreement” between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Mr. Malik said, “something that we agreed on, has not been acted upon”.
He noted that there has been no dialogue since then which “obviously shows that the agreement that we made in Sharm-el-Sheikh is yet to be implemented”.
A joint statement issued after talks between Dr. Singh and Mr. Gilani in the Egyptian capital in July had delinked dialogue from Pakistan’s action against terrorism.
Asked if India had gone back on its commitment, Mr. Malik said on Karan Thapar’s Devil’s Advocate programme, “They are too strong words and I would not like to use it.”
On whether India was trying to relink the dialogue process and Pakistan’s action against terrorism, Mr. Malik said, “You can put it that way.”
Drawing attention to the July 16 joint statement, Mr. Malik said it mentioned that “the efforts that we are continuing to do in the context of terrorism and the dialogue process, they have to be delinked and they are not to be bracketed“.
He said he was “referring to the commitment, the agreement the two Prime Ministers made in Sharm-el-Sheikh on July 16 and if you look at the joint statement, it is very clear that dialogue is the only way forward“.
Pakistan, the envoy said, was looking for “a result-oriented focused dialogue” between the two countries.
Noting that the two countries have already had four rounds of dialogue, he said, “We were hoping and still continue to harbour hope that the two countries would get down and talk to each other and discuss all the issues.”
Mr. Malik said the Pakistani political leadership has been requesting India to initiate dialogue process through their statements but so far “there has been no response.”
Asked if the response from India was ‘silence’ or ‘no, not yet’, he said, “I think it is a combination of both. ‘No, not yet’ in the sense that it is based on the statements in the media that Pakistan needs to do more in the context of the ongoing Mumbai (attack) investigations.”
Expressing concerns over the two countries not talking to each other, Mr. Malik said, “My worry is that by not talking to each other, we are strengthening the forces which don’t want the two countries to make any progress.”
He said this was also leading to “hardening of positions”, strengthening of extremist forces and weakening the liberal forces in Pakistan.
Asked if the two countries were not communicating with each other, Mr. Malik said the foreign offices of the two countries were in constant touch over a variety of issues but “when it comes to holding a structured composite dialogue, yes, that is not taking place”.
Commenting on the present status of the relations between the two sides, Mr. Malik said, “We are at a stage when we are not talking to each other. There is no diplomatic exchange and there is no dialogue.”
To a question about Pakistan not moving fast enough on investigations in the 26/11 terror attack case, Mr. Malik said, “I would not agree with that. FIR was lodged against the seven accused in February, within four months of the tragedy. The trial is continuing and as a matter of fact on October 10, a formal trial against the seven accused has begun,” Mr. Malik said.
The Pakistani envoy said his country was looking for “credible actionable evidence against the individuals (so) that our case is fool-proof and we can argue the case and it will strengthen hands of the prosecutors.”
Commenting on India’s demand for early justice in the case, Mr. Malik said, “I don’t think the Indian audience wants justice of the law of the jungle to prevail. Pakistan surely doesn’t. The accused has every right to put up their own defence.”
Asked what would Pakistan do to convince India about its actions against terror, Mr, Malik said, “I don’t have to convince India. If anybody in India expects that we will be able to get up and prosecute a person, that will not help.”
To a query on UN-banned Pakistan-based militant group Jamaat-ud-Dawa still being allowed to freely operate in Pakistan, he said, “Assets of the operatives of the JuD were frozen. There was restriction on their movement. All the practical steps that were required to be taken by the Pakistan government have been taken.”
On Pakistan government not appealing against LeT chief Hafiz Saeed’s release by a Pakistani High Court, Mr. Malik said that the federal and the Punjab governments had appealed against the court order.