Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has expressed shock and dismay over the revelation by an Indian journalist that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had held a secret “deniable” meeting with his Indian counterpart in 2014 on the sidelines of the Saarc Summit in Kathmandu, Nepal.
According to a statement by the PTI chief’s spokesperson, Imran asserted the leadership had to take bold initiatives and convince their people to move forward with dignity and confidence.
“Unfortunately, the present leadership of Pakistan and India lacks the courage and the conviction, which has led them to hold secret meetings that can be denied,” he said.
Imran said while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a prisoner of his extremist right wing supporters, PM Nawaz conveyed a deep-rooted fearfulness of the military establishment.
“This inability to move forward confidently by Nawaz is also undermining the credibility of the Pakistan’s armed forces at a critical juncture in our history when the military is combating terrorism across the country,” the statement added.
The PTI chief said he believed peace between Pakistan and India was critical for the prosperity of the people of the subcontinent, as it will ensure economic vibrancy through trade and investment opportunities.
“Peace requires conflict resolution and de-escalation of military tensions along the border, the Line of Control (LoC) and the Working Boundary,” he added.
Imran said the secret meeting in Kathmandu was made possible by an Indian steel magnate.
Given the Sharifs’ steel business interests, the PTI chairman said, PM Nawaz clearly has a conflict of interest between his and the country’s national interests.
Imran reminded how Nawaz was the first Pakistani premier who, while visiting New Delhi for Modi’s inauguration as PM, failed to find time to meet the Kashmiri delegation – because of his meetings with Indian business magnates.
The PTI supremo asserted leaders lead and initiate policies, especially when political breakthroughs are required.
“Leaders are expected to convince their nations of their initiatives, not hide and have “deniable” secret meetings through their business interests. Unfortunately, PM Nawaz seems unable to take any policy initiative or even a position of clarity on India publicly.”
Meanwhile, PTI leader also questioned the most recent interaction in Paris between Nawaz and Modi, which, he said, also raised serious questions, as there has been a complete silence over what transpired in that tête-à-tête.
“At a time when mistrust and hostility between the two neighbours is at its peak, Nawaz as prime minister should inform the nation of what was exchanged in that conversation,” the statement said.