New Delhi: Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit on Thursday morning reiterated that the Kashmir issue must be resolved “as per aspirations of Kashmiris”. He also said that Pakistan has always tried to maintain good relations with its neighbours and wants good relations with India too.
“We hope we will be able to solve our differences and issues, especially the Kashmir issue,” Basit said, speaking during the Pakistan Day celebrations here. He also extended support for Kashmiri separatists, saying their “struggle is for freedom”. “Struggle for freedom of Kashmiri people will one day succeed by the grace of god,” he said.
Reacting sharply to his remarks, MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay said: “Pakistan High Commissioner’s remarks… are not in keeping with diplomatic niceties and are tantamount to interference in our internal affairs. Pakistan would be well-advised to effectively address the challenge of terrorism emanating from that country, which has adversely affected peace and stability in the entire neighbourhood as well as Pakistan’s relations with other countries.”
In the evening, Basit had a more measured tone. Expressing his gratefulness to MoS (External Affairs) M J Akbar for gracing the National Day reception, Basit said, “Pakistan may not be the richest country in South Asia, but according to UN report, Pakistan is the happiest country in the region… this is testimony to the resilience of its people who despite having internal and external challenges kept their spirits high, have fought tirelessly against terrorism.”
The remarks drew some smirks and sniggers from Indian guests as well as diplomats.
Top Hurriyat leaders were not present and were represented by junior leaders as they were detained or arrested in the Valley. Nor were any political heavyweights present with Congress’ Mani Shankar Aiyar and BJP’s Vijay Jolly the only ones around.
This was Basit’s last National Day reception as Pakistan’s envoy in Delhi.