Pakistan's high commissioner to India Abdul Basit said on Friday his country will not "abandon" Kashmiris in their "legitimate struggle" for freedom.
"Aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir could neither be ignored nor put on the back-burner. No matter how much more time their legitimate struggle takes, Pakistan will never abandon Kashmiris and their cause," Basit, who had recently created a controversy by inviting Kashmiri separatist leaders to an Eid event, said in New Delhi.
The high commissioner asserted that "Pakistan has always wanted to have a normal and cooperative relationship with India...To this end, it was necessary to settle all the outstanding issues, particularly the Jammu and Kashmir dispute to improve relations," he said in his address at an event in New Delhi to mark Pakistan's Independence Day.
Abdul Basit says 'Pakistan will never abandon Kashmiris and their cause'
On July 21, Basit had invited Kashmiri separatist leaders at an Eid Milan event held at the Pakistan High Commission on July 21. Basit had defended his move saying it was "nothing unusual".
Basit's Kashmir comments came days ahead of the meeting between the national security advisors of India and Pakistan. The NSAs will hold talks on terrorism-related issues for the first time on August 23 in New Delhi, as decided in a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif last month in the Russian city of Ufa to resume dialogue and discuss all issues connected to terrorism.
Pakistan prime minister's advisor on national security and foreign affairs Sartaz Aziz confirmed in Islamabad on Thursday that he will come to India on August 23 for the talks.
Sources have told Hindustan Times that Indian NSA Ajit Doval has asked intelligence agencies to make a file on Pakistan's role in the recent Gurdaspur and Jammu attacks, HT has learnt.
The Gurdaspur attack on July 27, which left four policemen and three civilians dead, and the attack on a BSF convoy in Udhampur on August 5, in which two jawans were killed and Pakistani terrorist Mohammad Naveed alias Usman was captured alive, had cast a shadow over the dialogue process but New Delhi stuck to its offer of talks.
Pakistan, in turn, is preparing a dossier of what it perceives as India's role in fomenting trouble in Balochistan and Karachi as also the investigation into the 2007 blasts on the Samjhauta Express that killed its citizens. Aziz is also likely to raise the issue of bail to Aseemanand, an accused in the Samjhauta case.
Doval is also expected to raise India's concerns over the slow pace of the 26/11 trial and bail for Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the military commander responsible for co-ordinating the Mumbai attacks.
The main challenge, however, for Doval and Aziz will be to keep the dialogue process going in the face of all the finger-pointing expected from both sides.
Last year, the Indian government had cancelled the talks between the foreign secretaries of both countries after the Pakistani envoy had hosted Kashmiri separatist leaders before the dialogue.
(With agency inputs)