New Delhi, Apr 23: Dismissing seemingly tough statements by the BJP and its allies about Pakistan as “poll rhetoric”, Pakistan High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit Wednesday said they “very much welcome” BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s latest statement that if he came to power, his government would follow a “balanced” foreign policy in which “no one should be able to intimidate us and neither should we do it”.
Addressing a group of journalists from the Indian Women Press Corps at the Pakistan High Commission here, Basit, who took over earlier this month, said Modi’s statement in a TV interview Tuesday night were “very positive”.
“We have heard the statement of Modi. we are very much encouraged,” Basit said, adding that the statement from the prime ministerial hopeful has given Islamabad “hope” and that things would be more positive.
Asked if he would deal with Pakistan with a firm hand, Modi told ABP News in an interview: “No one should be able to intimidate us and neither should we do it. The relationship with all countries should be balanced.”
“This feeling should be reciprocated and that is the best way forward,” he added.
To a question if the tough posturing by some BJP members and its affiliate groups caused concern, Basit said that in election time “we understand that it is all part of poll rhetoric”.
Basit also added that whosoever comes to power after the general elections in India would get a “felicitation message” from Pakistan.
Basit, who is believed to be tipped to become the next foreign secretary, said his country hoped the new government in India “would be stable and
would not be a repetition of the past”.
He said his country is “very keenly looking forward to a government with which Pakistan can quickly, comprehensively and meaningfully engage”.
Stressing on dialogue as the way forward to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries, Basit also expressed disappointment that Pakistani players were not allowed to participate in the hugely-popular Indian Premier League cricket
tournament, terming it as an example of a negativity in ties that needed to be addressed.
To a question, the Pakistan high commissioner said he had learnt from the media of the arrest of some Indian Mujahideen operatives, including Yasin Bhatkal and trained bomb-makers Tehsin Akhtar and Waqas who police said had come from Pakistan with the aim of disrupting the Indian elections.
“There may be some truth in the reports.. I have also learnt of the arrests from the media. There is no official information given to the government of Pakistan about it,” Basit said, adding that the “negative narrative” between their countries needed to be changed to positive.
On Pakistan holding out from granting India the Most Favoured Nation status that India has given years ago, Basit said his country’s pharma, agricultural, auto and textiles sectors had “serious apprehensions” about being swamped by Indian goods and were, therefore, seeking some clarifications from the Indian side.
He said in informal talks, India had agreed to reduce the subsidies on items from these sectors to be exported to Pakistan. But with the model code of
conduct in place due to the elections, the agreement could not be finalized. He hoped the new Indian government would “reconsider and take forward” the agreement.
To another question, Basit said Pakistan was “going ahead speedily” with the 26/11 Mumbai attack trial, adding there is a judicial process in his country and his government could not say when the trial would be concluded.
Stressing that he had come with a mandate from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and a “national consensus” in Pakistan for improving bilateral relations, the envoy said both India and Pakistan should be able to leverage their geo-strategic
advantages for bilateral economic development as well as for the region.