–PM says Congress party might be ‘too scared’ to discuss Kashmir with Pakistan if it forms next govt in India
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said he thinks there may be a better chance of peace talks with New Delhi if his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins the general election.
Imran said that if the next Indian government were led by the opposition Congress party, it might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over on the Kashmir issue, fearing a backlash from the right.
“Perhaps if the BJP – a right-wing party – wins, some kind of settlement on Kashmir could be reached,” the country’s premier said.
This was despite the massive alienation that Muslims in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) and Muslims in general were facing under the BJP government, he added.
“I never thought I would see what is happening in India right now,” said Imran. “Muslim-ness is being attacked.”
The PM said Indian Muslims he knew who many years ago had been happy about their situation in India were now very worried by extreme Hindu nationalism.
He said Modi, like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was electioneering based on “fear and nationalist feeling”.
The BJP’s pledge this week to propose stripping decades-old special rights from the people of IoK, which prevent outsiders from buying property in the state, was a major concern, though it could also be electioneering, the premier said.
PM Imran did appear to offer India an olive branch, saying that Islamabad was determined to dismantle all Pakistan-based militias in the country, and that the government had full support from the army for the programme.
Imran said Kashmir liberation movement was a political struggle and there was no military solution.
The country’s premier said there was still the possibility if the polls turn against Modi in the next few weeks that India could take some further military action against Pakistan.
PM Imran said that it was vital for Pakistan to have peace with its neighbours, Afghanistan, India and Iran, if it was to have the kind of economy needed to pull 100 million people out of poverty.
Relations between Pakistan and India reached a crisis point in February after a suicide bombing in occupied Kashmir’s Pulwama killed more than 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir.
India had immediately hurled allegations of Pakistan’s involvement, whereas Islamabad strongly rejected the claim and asked for “actionable evidence”.
Subsequently on Feb 26, Indian warplanes violated Pakistani airspace and allegedly struck what New Delhi claimed was a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) training camp — a claim never proved by India.
The next day, Pakistani jets fired at various targets from across the Line of Control. As the Indian Air Force engaged the Pakistani jets, the PAF shot down two Indian warplanes ─ one of which crashed in Azad Jammu and Kashmir ─ and captured an Indian pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan. The pilot was released on March 1 as a gesture of peace by the Pakistani government.
Pollsters say Modi and the BJP’s re-election bid got a boost from a wave of patriotism after the suicide bomb attack and the Indian government’s response.
The prime minister said there was still the possibility if the polls turn against Modi in the next few weeks that India could take some further military action against Pakistan.
The rolling election is held in phases and does not finish until May 19. The result is not due until May 23.
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had warned on Sunday that Islamabad had “reliable intelligence” that India was planning more military action against Pakistan this month. India described the claim as irresponsible.
Prime Minster Khan said that it was vital for Pakistan to have peace with its neighbours, Afghanistan, India and Iran, if it was to have the kind of economy needed to pull 100 million people out of poverty.