NEW DELHI: The iftar hosted by Bihar Chief Minister-cum-JD-U chief Nitish Kumar and veteran Sharad Yadav at the latter’s residence on Wednesday had a guest who surprised many not just by attending the rather over-crowded party, but also because he was found speaking for Indo-Pak talks.
Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit, surrounded by the media, insisted that the two countries will talk. Seen in the backdrop of the views expressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his recent interview to a TV-news channel, it was taken note of across the board.
As for the Pakistan High Commissioner, he created a bit of a stir by sounding exasperated: “There’s no hostile environment for God’s sake. We are two neighbours. We’ve to talk and we’ll talk.” Coming from Basit who’s not unknown to controversy and whose occasional not-so-positive remarks have derailed peace talks, it was significant. So was his attendance. Foreign envoys are not known to break stiffness of diplomatic protocol to attend iftar parties or large social dos of Opposition leaders.
It should be noted that the minority wing of the RSS, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, had also extended an invitation to the envoy to its first-ever big iftar bash, only to withdraw it later in the view of his “insensitive” statements on the Pampore militant attack.
The tangible chill in India-Pakistan relations in the aftermath of Pampore and Pathankot, was evident when Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, present at the iftar, took on Basit, by retorting that Pak-trained terrorists were killing Indian soldiers and “despite that, Pakistan has complaints? This country (India) has a complaint that Pakistan is not acting against ISI, its army and its agents of terror,” he rebutted.