ISLAMABAD – Pakistan High Commissioner to New Delhi, Abdul Basit on Friday stated that dialogue was the only way forward for the two countries.

“Talking to each other is inevitable. Whether it happens one year down the road or three years down the road,” he said in an interview with an Indian newspaper – The Hindu.

He further said, “I think we need to work on how to break the impasse between us. It is a slightly skewed approach to think India is doing a favour by having a dialogue process.”

“Pakistan is not begging for dialogue. If India is not ready, we can always wait. We will continue to work to break the impasse, but we are very clear that dialogue is the only way our countries can move forward and they cannot live in a state of perpetual hostility,” he added.

To a question about the prospects of any bilateral meeting between Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and the Indian side during the upcoming Hearts of Asia Conference in Amritsar, the Pakistani High Commissioner said: “….We fully understand that the focus should stay on Afghanistan at the conference. And whether or not there are bilateral talks, our adviser is coming because Afghanistan is important for us, its stability and economy are important for us so we will participate constructively.”

“The challenge is for the two sides on how to move forward. In Islamabad, we do have a strong desire to move forward. We have the patience to wait. If they don’t break the ice in Amritsar perhaps we will find another opportunity somewhere later,” he added.

To another question, High Commissioner Basit said, Pakistan will continue to extend moral and diplomatic support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“To expect Pakistan to look the other way would not be possible. And we are not alone. OIC has issued a statement on support of J&K. UN Human Rights Commissioner wants to send a fact finding mission there,” he added.

To a question about Indian Prime Minister Modi’s recent statements on the Indus Water Treaty, the High Commissioner said, Indus Water Treaty was a permanent treaty. “It can neither be changed nor abandoned unilaterally.”

“We urge India to discuss their problems through dispute settlement mechanisms. And so far we have been able to resolve all our issues,” he added.

To a question about the cancellation of SAARC Summit, which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad, Abdul Basit said, “That is a temporary thing. If SAARC couldn’t be held that is our collective loss.”

“We also have serious issues on terrorism. The entire leadership of the TTP, for example, is in Afghanistan. We still strongly feel that terrorism is a common challenge and it is only through a cooperative approach that we can make a difference, not targeting one country,” he added.

To a question about growing Pak-Russia ties, High Commissioner Basit said, “If Russia engages with Pakistan how is it a loss for India? We are living in a world that is transforming in many ways. Russia is a sovereign country, so is Pakistan.”

“China and India have very good relations, China is one of India’s biggest trading partners, but that doesn’t have an impact on Pakistan and China’s strategic partnership. All good relations work to our collective advantage. I don’t subscribe to this zero sum game. Also remember, Russia played an important part when the Tashkent agreement happened, so good relations always help,” he maintained. – APP