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Pak ‘suspends’ peace talks, sings China tune on Masood

Pak ‘suspends’ peace talks, sings China tune on Masood
Addressing mediapersons at the Foreign Correspondents Club of South Asia, Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit on Thursday said the peace process between India and Pakistan has been “suspended” and there are no talks scheduled between the two countries. He also ruled out the possibility of India’s National Investigation Team (NIA) team’s visit to Pakistan for probe into the Pathankot terror attacks.

The announcement comes days after Pakistani officials visited the Pathankot air base to inquire into the January terror attack. The move had drawn flak from Opposition parties in India. “There is no meeting scheduled as of now. I think at present the peace process is suspended,” he told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents Club, South Asia. Asked about the possibility of NIA team visiting Pakistan for Pathankot terror probe, he said, “Personally, I feel that this whole investigation is not about the question of reciprocity it is more about both countries extending cooperation on the issue.”  

Reacting to the envoy’s statement, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Thursday said, “The terms of reference of the JIT were agreed upon by both sides.” New Delhi has repeatedly said that the five-member Joint Investigation Team (JIT) from Pakistan was allowed to come and visit the Pathankot air base – where seven military personnel were killed - on the understanding that the National Investigation Agency would also be allowed to go to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, amidst the row on China’s veto in United Nations to ban Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist Masood Azhar who masterminded the Pathankot attacks, Basit said that he ‘subscribed to Chinese viewpoint’ on the matter.

On counselor access being provided to former Naval officer Kulbhushan Yadav, who was supposedly arrested in Balochistan, Basit said, “I can’t tell you exactly when the Indian authorities will be given counselor access to him, but the request is under consideration.” On reports of a German diplomat Dr Gunter Mulack saying that Yadav was caught by Taliban and handed over to Pak authorities, Basit said, “I think that is absolutely off the mark.”

Basit also said that Kashmir was the root cause of mistrust between the two countries. “Let’s be realistic. It is the Jammu & Kashmir dispute that is the root cause of mutual distrust and other bilateral issues,” he said. 
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