Salman Bashir, Pakistan’s soon-to-be-former High Commissioner to India, sees “light at the end of the tunnel” for ties between Pakistan and India.
Speaking at a farewell press conference in New Delhi on Monday, Bashir said: “I do not want to sound overoptimistic or exaggerate, but what I am saying is that there is light at the end of the tunnel … We have constantly worked for improvement in relations between the two countries, and at this point of time, I am personally optimistic that we will be on the upward trajectory in the coming months.”
Bashir said that calm had been restored between both countries after a series of nearly monthly skirmishes this year between troops across the Line of Control that divides Kashmir between Pakistani and Indian control. Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Manmohan Singh had met in New York in September and pledged to control cross-border firing.
Some observers have predicted that ties between Pakistan and India could take a hit if hardline Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi becomes India’s prime minister after next year’s general elections. Modi, an outspoken critic of Pakistan, has accused incumbent Singh of not being tough enough toward Islamabad.
Bashir refused to comment on the impact of a Modi premiership, saying Pakistan would “respect whatever is the decision of the people of India.” He said the outcome of the Indian elections was “not material” to Sharif’s stated goal of improving ties. “The improvement in relations with India is very emphatically a state policy. We believe it’s in our interest and we believe it’s in the interest of the region … Our prime minister is on record as having very emphatically stated that improvement of relations with India is a priority. An improvement in relations with Pakistan is also something that is of importance to India and the Indian leadership.”