Pakistan playing to gallery in publicising Kashmir issue: Former envoy

New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) Pakistan is perhaps playing to the gallery in raising and publicing the Kashmir issue, former Indian high commissioner in Islamabad S.K. Lambah said at a discussion between former envoys of the two countries here on Friday.

“At times it becomes comic. The foreign secretaries during their talks would perhaps discuss Kashmir for half a minute. But there would be a 10-minutes briefing on the issue after the meeting,” he said.

To which former Pakistan envoy to India Ashraf Jehangir Qazi retorted in a lighter vein that a little comical relief is also necessary to ease tensions between the two nations.

Former envoys from both sides including Shiv Shankar Menon, G. Parthasarthy, Lambah, Salman Bashir, as well as Aziz Ahmed Khan and Qazi were taking part in a discussion organised by think tank Ananta Aspen Centre, moderated by veteran journalist Karan Thapar and telecast on India Today news channel on Friday.

On the question of Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi’s impromptu visit to Lahore in late December to meet his counterpart Nawaz Sharif, Menon said it was a move worth making.

“I think it was a move worth making and this is a way you can move ahead. However, soon after that Pathankot happened,” he said, referring to the January 2 terrorist attack on a Indian Air Force base in the Punjab town near the India-Pakistan border.

The issue of India’s alleged interference in Pakistan’s Balochistan province and alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav also cropped up during the discussion.

“Pakistan has been raising the issue of India’s involvement in Balochistan but we did not have substantive eveidence to prove after point before Jadhav’s arrest,” said Aziz Ahmed Khan.

Parthasarathy however dismissed the allegations, asking why would India send across a RAW spy to Pakistan with an India passport.

Khan retorted: “Why not if the passport may make an alibi.”

The diplomats from both sides agreed that despite all the differences, allegations and counter-allegations, the only way out was talks and that the jerk-and-start approach was in nobody’s interests. They agreed that there should be continuity in the bilateral talks.

“We need to pick up where we left. A lot of work was done during UPA’s regime,” Bashir said.

Parthasarathy said that the present government under Modi is making the right moves in the bilateral relations.

“Prime Minister Modi has made a lot of headway and he is doing the right thing by keeping larger part of India-Pakistan diplomacy away from media glare,” he said.



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