India-Pakistan relations: Is Abdul Basit not rising to occasion responsible for rising differences?

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Abdul Basit
At a time when the border skirmishes have ruined the relations between India and Pakistan, Pakistan's High Commissioner to India Abdul Basit is not making efforts to mollify the neighbours. Basit's inertness could also be due to the fact that the Pak envoy doesn't enjoys the favour of the Narendra Modi Government.

How Basit lost New Delhi's trust

The prime reason for the Modi Government's alienation with Basit started when he met with Kashmiri separatist leaders in August, despite explicit warnings from foreign secretary Sujatha Singh. As a result a miffed dispensation in New Delhi had called off the foreign secretary-level talks with Pakistan.

Also, Basit's comment on Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, "Saeed was a free Pakistani national and was free to roam around". Basit also contended that Pakistani courts had "already exonerated" Saeed. "There is no case pending against him," he added.

This further miffed New Delhi, which has constantly maintained its stand that Saeed must be punished for plotting terror on Indian soil.

Slamming Basit for his remark, BJP leader Sambit Patra said that Hafiz Saeed is the mastermind of 26/11 and has killed many people. He further said that BJP has made it clear to Pakistan that talks and terror cannot go hand in hand.

Also, Basit reportedly took no interest in organising a meeting between the Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif during their visit to New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

As per a TOI report, Indian sources said the Pakistan envoy had an opportunity of effecting a course correction fairly easily, which did not happen.

Through home minister Rajnath Singh and foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, India had hinted that its open to restarting communications. The Pakistani side did not interpret New Delhi's hint. Indian officials were told a meeting could happen only if India asked for it.

Recalling of US envoy Nancy Powel

US envoy to India Nancy Powel was recalled by White House as she maintained to distance herself from the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. The Obama administration called her back because she was not reading the obvious signs that Modi is set to become the next prime minister of India.

After Modi took office, Washington has appointed Indian-American Richard Verma as new US ambassador to New Delhi.

Will Basit too face the Powel treatment?

However, it is too early to comment whether Basit will be removed from Pak's High Commission but seems India has already started giving signals to Islamabad that it is not on good terms with him.

India's anger with Basit was evident with the fact that India's foreign office had reportedly called Pakistan's deputy high commissioner Mansoor Khan, on Tuesday, to register its protest against repeated ceasefire violations by Pakistan along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir.

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