PTI chief welcomes resumption of peace talks as a positive development, invites Indian PM to visit Pakistan
Says he urged Modi for resumption of cricket ties with Pakistan
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Friday, where he invited Modi to visit Pakistan, Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said on Twitter.
Swarup said that the two leaders welcomed the recent developments in bilateral ties between India and Pakistan, and hoped that these would lead to closer cooperation.
Khan also gave an interview to India Today’s Karan Thapar and talked about his meeting with the Indian prime minister and his views on the Indo-Pak peace process.
“The recent talks have been very positive. On both sides of the border,” Khan said. He said that it was “quite disconcerting in the beginning when the stand-off took place” but that “things are looking good now”.
Khan said that he had been disappointed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he did nothing to bridge the rift between the two countries. “To be honest, I thought that just like Vajpayee, he represented BJP and was scared when he came into power.” Khan said. “In Pakistan we thought the distance between the two countries would increase. But in fact, Vajpayee reached out to Pakistan and paid a visit there and took everyone by surprise. He was the one who started the peace process,” he continued.
Khan said that he was disappointed when Modi did not do the same. “With Modi, I was a bit disappointed. In the beginning, I thought that he had a huge majority, and this was a great time to be a statesman. He was in a great position to bring the countries together. I was a bit disappointed. But people change, they learn,” Khan said.
The PTI chief welcomed the current peace process, “This is a positive move because we thought the distances wouldn’t get closer. This movement in the last few weeks give us hope that Narendra Modi is changing.”
Clarifying his earlier statement regarding lack of leadership on the part of both Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Khan said that he was referring to secret talks between the two prime ministers and whether Narendra Modi was worried about his own right-wing constituency and Nawaz was worried about the establishment. “My point was that leaders do not worry about these things. They get inspired people on board towards greater vision,” Khan said.
Khan, in his statement last week, had attributed the lack of courage and conviction as the reason why the secret meetings were held in 2014 on the sidelines of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Kathmandu.
“This inability to move forward confidently by premier Nawaz is also undermining the credibility of Pakistan Army at a critical juncture in our history when the military is combating terrorism across the country,” the PTI chief had said.
During last night’s interview, Khan said that he did not mind if Kashmir was kept in “a different package of the peace talk” so long as there was an understanding that Kashmir is a sticking point. “Sooner or later it has to be resolved,” Khan said.
Speaking to the audience, Imran Khan said during his meeting with the Indian PM, he also urged for resumption of cricket ties with Pakistan.
“I had supported South Africa’s boycott by the cricketing world during the apartheid era because it was about human rights violation,” said the PTI chief.
When asked what Modi’s response was on resuming cricket ties, Khan said: “He (Modi) only smiled and I cannot figure out if it was a yes or no.”
Imran was of the view that any move that can improve bilateral relations between Pakistan and India, such as a cricket series, should be adopted.
“We don’t want to be enemies forever. You have to think about the future. There are mutual cricketing heroes in both our countries. Like Wasim Akram is adored and loved in India, Sachin Tendulkar is a hero in Pakistan,” he said.
Kapil was more guarded in his response when asked if India should play Pakistan in a bilateral series.
“The decision rests with the government. Both boards are ready to play but you cannot go against your government.”
The meeting between Imran and Modi comes days after Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad and held meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and PM’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz.
The two sides agreed to reinitiate the comprehensive dialogue process to discuss all outstanding issues including terrorism and Kashmir.
They noted the successful talks on terrorism and security related issues in Bangkok by the two National Security Advisors and decided that the security advisers would continue to address all issues connected to terrorism.
Pakistan assured the Indian side that the government is taking steps to expedite the early conclusion of the Mumbai trials.