Backchannel dialogue on with India, says Pakistan

Islamabad, Aug 3 (IANS) Pakistan on Thursday said though the bilateral dialogue with India has been stalled, a number of civil society organisations were engaged in backchannel talks to discuss contentious issues.

Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria, in his weekly briefing, said civil society organisations, that include people from different walks of life, are conducting such interactions occasionally.

To a question on the current India-China stand-off in the Sikkim sector, the spokesperson said Pakistan was concerned at the “increasing Indian belligerence” in the region, which he said was endangering regional peace and stability.

To a query on Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement linking Pakistan with terrorism in a speech this week, Zakaria termed it “baseless”. He said India needs to introspect as Pakistan has suffered the most because of terrorism, both in terms of human and economic losses.

He also said that India needed to introspect on its “own state-sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and the belligerent attitude it has adopted towards its smaller neighbours”.

He blamed India for stalling of the bilateral dialogue process.

He said since the Bharatiya Janata Party has assumed power in India, “the relationship has witnessed a downward trajectory”.

On Kashmir, Zakaria said the Indian government was trying to label the “indigenous” movement for self-determination as terrorism.

He also condemned the “unlawful” detention of Kashmiri leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Mohammad Yasin Malik.

–IANS

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