Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf said that the window of hope between relations between India and Pakistan improving earlier this year are 'perhaps still there', provided India is willing to create a conducive environment.
In an interview with Journalist Karan Thapar to The Wire, Yusuf spoke at length about the various factors that have a bearing on the equation between the two countries, including Kashmir, terrorism and Afghanistan. He also revealed details of meetings that were held that led to the reinforcement of the 2003 cease fire this year. He also says that while Pakistan wants to better its relationship with India, the country is finding it hard to understand if a rational dialogue can be had with the Indian government.
Raising the two core concerns of Pakistan, he says:
""For Pakistan there are two concerns. Number one is Kashmir, it has always been and it will always be there till Kashmiris get their right to self determination as enshrined in the UN Security Council resolutions. The second one is Terrorism. This is Pakistan's core concern. We need india to understand that we know that India is perpetuating terrorism against Pakistan in Pakistan and it is unacceptable."" -
He continues, "There has been a narrative that Kashmir is Pakistan's concern and terrorism is India's. I do not know frankly what India's concerns are, given the changes in India. Terrorism and Kashmir are both Pakistan's core concerns." He also underlined that no Pakistani government or political party has ever come close to saying that Kashmir is not an issue between the two countries and is living in a fool's paradise.
Meetings That Led to Reinforcement of 2003 Ceasefire in February 2021
Speaking about how India had contacted Pakistan, he said, "I think it is a good thing if a country saw the need to talk to a neighbour, saw there was a mistake made and things need to be contacted. So there was a contact made (by India), Pakistan did reciprocate by asking a very simple question. The question was what is it that India is willing to do to do right by the Kashmiris going forward. That is really what the contact was."
Thapar asked Yusuf to confirm if there were secret meetings that were held between intelligence agencies on both sides and how pertinent they were in reinforcing the 2003 ceasefire in February 2021.
While confirming the same, Yusuf explained, "This was a contact made by the Indian side to us and reciprocated by asking a simple question about Kashmir." Yusuf said that intelligence level contacts took place, without divulging who from the Indian side had attended these meetings, he said, "I would protect who was there from the Indian side, because that is for India to decide that it wants to reveal or not. If I were to be brutally honest it would also reveal who really calls the shorts in India. So, I'd let that be Delhi's decision."
He also said that he had a sense that there was a pressure on India, but said he does not know which country had exerted that pressure, adding that it was for Delhi to answer that.
Yusuf said they want to live as civilised neighbours but India's RSS ideology is disturbing it.
Yusuf Reiterates Evidence to Link India to Lahore Bombings, MEA Has Already Rubbished the Claim
He also told Thapar that Pakistan has 'concrete evidence and intelligence' that connect the recent Lahore bomb blast outside Hafiz Saeed's residence to 'handlers and masterminds in India' which Pakistan will decide to make public in a dossier when the time is right.
This is a claim that has been made before as well and it has been rubbished by India. India's MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi called this baseless propoganda and that Pakistan would do well to expend the same effort in settings its own house in order.
When Thapar asked again if there was a window for dialogue or not, Yusuf said that his 'honest wish and hope is that it is open'. He also said that he was struggling tp understand what kind of country India was. "We are struggling to understand whether India is a country you can have any rational conversation with. I want to be proven wrong and I implore your government to do right by Kashmiris and move forward. But do not see our offer as a weakness," he said.
On Afghanistan, Yusuf Says Pak Has Limited Leverage
There is also a section of the interview that dwells on Afghanistan. This includes Yusuf responding to allegations of Afghanistan's vice president saying that Pakistan is helping the Taliban military. "No body in the world is saying that Taliban is Pakistan's puppet except India. The Americans have been very clear, they understand that we have very limited leverage. What leverage would an outsider have when the group things they are once militarily," he said.
When asked by Thapar if Pakistan can ensure a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan does not become a sanctuary for terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Qaida and ISIS, Yusuf said, after much back and forth, "Afghanistan should never become a sanctuary for terrorists, we want it to be peaceful. And mind you, Afghanistan has been forced to become a sanctuary for terrorists for the past twenty years by none other than India trying to fuel terrorism in Pakistan."
Thapar intervenes here and calls Yusuf allegation laughable as there is no link to it.
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