‘If we keep focusing on trust deficit between India and Pak, then you miss out the doables’


Salman Bashir, Pakistan's High Commissioner to India and former foreign secretary, speaks about India-Pakistan relations, 26/11, and why it's important for both countries "to start changing the narrative". This session was moderated by Deputy Editor Pranab Dhal Samanta

Salman Bashir: This present phase of Indo-Pakistan relations is full of promise and hope. I think it was in Thimpu, Bhutan, when the two Prime Ministers met on the sidelines of the SAARC meet. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said what was most important is confidence and trust, and the modality to do that is to have as much contact at all levels as possible. The more we meet, the more we talk, the more comfortable we get. In one of my public remarks that I had made on my arrival, I had said that I detected a sea change in the atmosphere. I see a school of sceptics who dismiss it as wishful thinking. I believe it is better to have that wishful thinking for the opening and writing of a new chapter in Indo-Pak relations. Our region is changing very fast. It is certainly in Pakistan's national interest to have a stable, friendly neighbourhood. We have tremendous respect for this leadership, particularly Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Maneesh Chhibber: An anti-terror court in Pakistan did not accept the report of a judicial commission which visited India in the 26/11 case. So is there a plan to have another visit by the commission any time soon?

Salman Bashir: Both governments are in contact on this particular matter. Officially, we have asked that the commission visit again and that cross examination be allowed.

Maneesh Chhibber: There was talk of liberalising the visa regime between the two countries. Is that going to happen anytime soon now?

Salman Bashir: It is my understanding that the text of the liberalised visa agreement is ready and finalised but it awaits signing. Given the significance that we attach to people-to-people contacts, it may be appropriate that it be signed at the political, rather than the bureaucratic level.

... contd.

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