In a recent interview given to the Indian publication The Wire, Pakistan’s former High Commissioner to India, Abdul Basit, talked about his three and a half years leading Pakistan’s diplomatic mission in India.
The interview came before the launch of his recently written account of his tenure on the position titled Hostility, which will be published in April, the former High Commissioner revealed much about the Sharif government. Speaking about Sharif’s attitude and policy to India, Basit said the former PM thought that by making unilateral concessions to Modi he would get concessions in return but that did not happen. As a result Pakistan’s principal position on Jammu and Kashmir, in particular, was poorly defended and even compromised by Sharif.
Explaining his comment that Sharif had pandered to India Basit explained, “I watched our leader very very closely. I make this assertion on the basis of what I have seen when Nawaz Sharif came for Modi’s inauguration. It was uncalled for to unilaterally free Indian fishermen as a gesture of goodwill. At the meeting in Delhi, Nawaz Sharif kept silent on Kashmir. He did not mention Kashmir even a single time. He also did not seek a meeting with Hurriyat. I had suggested he should”.
He further added that the two Foreign Advisors to the former primer Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatemi had “apologetic mind-sets” and were keener to accept “Modi’s contentions and work quickly to assuage Modi’s concerns” rather than stand up for Pakistan’s interests.
Continuing on his criticism of the Sharif administration, he said, “Right from the word go Pakistan has mishandled the Kulbhushan Jadhav case… [and Pakistan is] gradually losing its credibility in the matter”.
Commenting on what he saw as the mishandling of Pakistan’s Foreign Relations, he said that the Sharif government had poorly managed diplomacy with India. Basit said, “Nawaz Sharif wanted to maintain good relations with Modi but did so unilaterally without anything in return. He said both the joint statement of December 2015 and the Ufa joint statement were poorly negotiated by Pakistan. They made concessions to India without any gain for Pakistan. At the time he expressed his disagreement with both joint statements.”
However, Basit explained that he did not think Nawaz Sharif willingly compromised Pakistan’s position, “I won’t say he was willing to compromise Pakistan’s interest, I think his approach was different. He thought that by making such unilateral concessions, he would eventually be able to get a concession from Indian Prime Minister Modi.”