Narendra Modi looking forward to visiting Pakistan in November for SAARC
Karachi, Sep 06: People living in glass houses should not be throwing stones at others, the Indian envoy in Pakistan has said as he described Kashmir as an internal matter of India.
Answering questions on the Kashmir issue and the recent statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Balochistan, Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan Gautam Bambawale said there are problems in both India and Pakistan.
Calling Kashmir an internal matter of India, he said, “There are problems in both India and Pakistan and you [Pakistan] should focus on resolving your problems before looking into the problems of other countries.”
About the statement made by Modi, the envoy said, “The Prime Minister, in his August 15 independence day speech, only referred to the letters he had received.”
Bambawale was speaking at an interactive session organised by the Karachi Council on Foreign Relations on Monday.
He said the Indian government had been saying: “Let’s work together to get to the bottom of terrorism which is a headache not only for Pakistan, but for India and the world.”
Bombawale said the two countries should not be talking on just one issue, but on all issues.
When asked whether Modi will visit Pakistan to attend the SAARC regional summit in November, Bambawale said, “Prime Minister Modi is looking forward to visiting Islamabad for the SAARC summit”.
He said that even while tensions were high between the two nations, there had been contacts at the operational level, The Dawn reported.
Over the past one-and-a-half month, there had been “cordial” interactions between Pakistani and Indian border forces. Several meetings of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) had also been held.
Bambawale also called for greater trade ties between Pakistan and India and said political issues will take time to resolve. He said that Pakistan should also grant India the Most-Favoured Nation status. “There should be more participation in trade fairs and more Pakistani trade delegations should visit India,” he added. “There is no option but to do it step by step,” he said.
The Indian envoy said the road to normalisation of ties between the two countries lies through greater trade and business. The roadmap in this regard was prepared by the two governments in 2012 could be unveiled soon. The total trade between the two countries was worth just USD 2.5 billion a year, whereas its potential was of USD 20 billion, he said. “There is a great potential that needs to be tapped.”
According to reports in the leading Pakistani newspapers, he said that political issues take time to resolve but the two countries can take up smaller matters and move forward.
Bambawale pointed out that India had boundary issues with China but decided to build on other relationships and today China is one of India’s biggest trade partners. “We should start by grabbing the low hanging fruit.”
When asked about Kulbushan Yadav, the alleged RAW agent arrested in Balochistan earlier this year, Bambawale said New Delhi has been very clear on the matter. “After the arrest was made we said he [Yadav] was an Indian national but does not work for any government organisation,” he said.
“We asked for consular access to Yadav, but our request was turned down by Pakistan.”
“We have arrested in Jammu and Kashmir a Pakistani, Bahadur Ali, who has confessed that he received training of terrorism in Pakistan. We have offered Pakistani authorities full consular access to him,” he said.
On the question that India was trying to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said India will not derail any process that is for the betterment of Pakistan.
He said India wanted a prosperous and stable Pakistan. The way forward for the two countries is to move in a direction where mutual trust could be increased because it is something which had been lacking for the past several years, he said.
Bambawale also said he knew that the visa process for Pakistanis to visit India was intricate. However, about 100,000 people had applied and 90,000 had been awarded the visas last year. People-to-people relations must go on, he said.