New Delhi: Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Friday evening said the leadership of India and Pakistan is “determined” to pursue the peace process, but Islamabad still awaits New Delhi`s response on resumption of Foreign Secretary level talks.
Interacting with members of the All India Muslim Majlis Mushwarat, an apex body of various Muslim groups at Abul Fazal Enclave, the high commissioner said that despite the terror attack on the airbase in Pathankot, communication links between the two countries did not get snapped.
“There is a need to work together to carry forward the peace process so that the South Asian region is rid of terrorism, hunger and poverty,” he said.
Basit`s statement on Friday comes after he last week stated that the “peace process is suspended”, which was contradicted by the Pakistan foreign ministry on the same day.
On Friday, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup, said at a briefing, that “talks with Pakistan are not suspended”.
Earlier, Basit was welcomed by Mushawarat Chief Navid Hamid, Secretary General Mujtaba Farooqi and other members.
Basit said it is strange that SAARC had not achieved the desired goal of regional cooperation like other regional blocs in the world due to various disputes among the member countries. “It is time for us to resolve these issue amicably and peacefully,” he said.
He added that the efforts to this end of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif “are highly laudable”.
Referring to the condition of minorities in Pakistan, the envoy claimed that they are not facing any discrimination or victimisation.
In fact Pakistan faces more sectarian violence and clashes than attacks on minorities, he said.
The high commissioner said that adequate representation is given to minorities in legislative assemblies and the national assembly. He acknowledged that the Blasphemy Law is “misused” by some forces. However, he said that more Muslims were held guilty under this law than non-Muslims.
He said that there is only three percent minorities in the country. “A bogey has been raised that at the time of creation of Pakistan there was more than 23 per cent minorities, and now only three per cent. No one understands the fact that bulk percentage of minorities were livng in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh,” he said.
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He praised the progress achieved by Muslims in all fields in India. He also mentioned the role of Indian religious leaders and others in their secular approach.
Basit said that “some elements are trying to malign Islam for their own vested interests”.
“We need to work together for unity among Muslims who are divided today on the basis of sect, ideology and region.”
He said that India is the second largest Muslims nation in the world and the country`s secular and democratic system enables them to get opportunities in development of the nation.
The high commissioner said that Pakistan has also made strides in various fields.