LINE CORRESPONDENT: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ”looking forward to visiting Islamabad” in November for the SAARC Summit, said Gautam Bambawale, India’s High Commissioner to Pakistan, in comments published on Tuesday.
It is unclear whether Bambawale’s statement indicates that the PM is definitely visiting Pakistan. It’s an interesting question, though, in light of the fact that Home Minister Rajnath Singh didn’t exactly have a pleasant trip when he visited Islamabad last month. Further, since Singh’s trip, tensions with Pakistan have only heightened, especially over the unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, and with PM Modi ramping up rhetoric on atrocities in Balochistan.
“I can’t say about the future, but as of today, Prime Minister Modi is looking forward to visiting Islamabad for the Saarc summit in November,” Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper quoted Bambawale as saying at an event in Karachi.
In August, home minister Rajnath Singh has attended the SAARC interior ministers’ conference and was greeted with protests by various terrorist outfits right outside the conference venue. The Pakistan government made no
efforts to stop these protests though the terror groups like LeT and JeM had announced in advance about the protest.
The Indian envoy also acknowledged that trust and confidence was lacking in relations between New Delhi and Islamabad. Still, though the tensions were high between the two countries, there had been contacts at the operational level. Over the past month and a half, there have been “cordial interactions” between Pakistani and Indian border forces, Bambawale said.
‘Pak should resolve its internal problems’
Bambawale didn’t back down on the issue of cross border terrorism.
“People living in glass houses should not be throwing stones at others. There are problems in both India and Pakistan and you [Pakistan] should focus on resolving your problems before looking into the problems of other countries,” he said, as he described Kashmir as an internal matter of India.
About the statements made by the PM on Balochistan, the envoy said, “The Prime Minister, in his August 15 Independence Day speech, only referred to the letters he had received,” Bambawale said about the PM’s comment that Baloch leaders thanked him for raising the issue of atrocities against them by the Pakistan government.
Bambawale called for greater trade ties between Pakistan and India and said political issues will take time to resolve. Pakistan, he said, should also grant India the Most-Favoured Nation status.
“There should be more participation in trade fairs and more Pakistani trade delegations should visit India. There is no option but to do it step by step,” he said.