The India-Pakistan joint statement at Sharm el-Sheikh is something the Manmohan Singh government would like to put behind it. But Islamabad is now putting India on the backfoot. Pakistani high commissioner to India Shahid Malik told a TV channel that India was not fulfilling its commitment made in the joint statement. Malik said, “Something that we agreed on has not been acted upon.”
This was a July 16 joint statement which delinked the composite dialogue from terrorism, as well as admitted Pakistan’s allegations about Indian activities in Balochistan. But after a political firestorm broke out in India, the government effectively walked back from the statement, saying there could be no meaningful talks until terrorism stopped and the perpetrators of the Mumbai attacks were brought to justice.
Malik said this was creating a “diplomatic vacuum” which would not help the cause of peace and by not talking to each other, “we are strengthening the forces which don’t want the two countries to make any progress”. He insisted that Pakistan was not slow in taking action against those behind the Mumbai attacks and contended that his country was “looking for credible actionable evidence” to ensure that the case was “fool-proof”.
Malik said the joint statement talked about “the efforts that we are continuing to do in the context of terrorism and the dialogue process, they have to be delinked and they are not to be bracketed”. Pakistan, the envoy said, was looking for “a result-oriented focused dialogue” between the two countries. Noting that the two countries have already had four rounds of dialogue, he said, “We were hoping and still continue to harbour hope that the two countries would get down and talk to each other and discuss all the issues.”
The envoy said Pakistani political leadership has been requesting India to start the composite dialogue again but so far “there has been no response”. Asked if the response from India was “silence” or “no, not yet”, he said, “I think it is a combination of both. ‘No, not yet’ in the sense that it is based on the statements in the media that Pakistan needs to do more in the context of the ongoing Mumbai (attack) investigations.”
Asked if the two countries were not communicating with each other, Malik said the foreign offices of the two countries were in constant touch over a variety of issues but “when it comes to holding a structured composite dialogue, yes, that is not taking place”. Commenting on the present status of relations between the two sides, Malik said, “We are at a stage when we are not talking to each other. There is no diplomatic exchange and there is no dialogue.”
Malik said his country was looking for “credible actionable evidence against the individuals (so) that our case is foolproof and strengthen hands of the prosecutors”.