Abdul Basit says elections are India’s “internal matter”

Pakistan’s new High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Tuesday said electing a prime minister was India’s “internal matter”. Asked if Pakistan had any preference for anyone for the post, he said, “It is for the people of India to decide… It is not for us to comment.”

Asked by The Hindu if he was following the elections, Mr. Basit, on a three-day visit here, replied: “India is our neighbour and, yes, we are keenly following elections here. Just as Indians are interested in elections in Pakistan, we are interested in elections in India.”

Mr. Basit presented his credentials on April 2 to President Pranab Mukherjee.

To a question whether there would be early engagement between Pakistan and a new government in India, the High Commissioner claimed that Islamabad always aspired to have a normal relationship with New Delhi. “We want to engage India quickly and comprehensively,” he stressed.

Asked when the 26/11 Mumbai attacks trial in Pakistan would conclude, Mr. Basit, who has worked as his country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the matter was sub judice. Pakistan, he claimed, was strongly committed to anti-terror operations and pointed out that 50,000 innocent Pakistanis had been killed by terrorists over the last 10 years. Asked whether his government was committed to getting the Mumbai trial accused convicted, Mr. Basit said it was for the court to decide. “We will see how this trial concludes.”

The High Commissioner said he was in Mumbai to promote business contacts between the two countries and would be interacting with business leaders on Wednesday.

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