The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman said Kashmir is the “core” issue between the two countries and it should be resolved through talks.
Pakistan July26: Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf emerged as the single largest party, said on Thursday that Pakistan is ready to improve its ties with India and the blame game between the two neighbors, detrimental to the sub-continent, should come to a stop.
“If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but at least (we) need a start,” Khan said in his first public address after leading his party to victory in the general elections held on Wednesday amid rival political parties’ claim of “blatant” rigging in the counting.
The 65-year-old said Kashmir is the “core” issue between the two countries and it should be resolved through talks. “I am a person who arguably knows the most people in India because of my days in cricket. We can resolve the poverty crisis in South East Asia. The biggest problem is Kashmir,” he said, suggesting that the two sides should come to the table to resolve it.
“We want to improve our relations with India if their leadership also wants it. This blame game that whatever goes wrong in Pakistan’s Balochistan is because of India and vice versa brings us back to square one,” he said.
“This is not how we will grow, and it is detrimental to the sub-continent,” he added. He said good India-Pakistan relations will be beneficial for the entire region and suggested to increase trade ties between the two neighbors.
The India-Pakistan ties nose-dived in recent years with no bilateral talks taking place.
The ties between the two countries had strained after the terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups in 2016 and India’s surgical strikes inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The sentencing of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav to death by a military court in April last year further deteriorated bilateral ties
The two sides often accuse each other of ceasefire violations along the Line of Control, resulting in civilian casualties.
Khan also said that he was very disappointed with the Indian media which had projected him like a “Bollywood villain” in recent weeks.
Experts, however, have pointed out that there is a very little possibility of any improvement in New Delhi’s ties with Islamabad under Imran Khan as he has been “propped” by the Pakistani military.
“He (Khan) is the Army’s man. He is expected to do what the Pakistani Army tells him to do,” said former diplomat G Parthasarathy, who has served as India’s High Commissioner in Islamabad.
Echoing his views, Union Minister R K Singh said there was no possibility of any change in Pakistan’s policy of hostility towards India under Khan’s leadership.
On ties with the US, he said Pakistan wants balanced relations with America which should be mutually beneficial, not one-sided. Additionally, Khan said he and his party wanted stronger ties with both Iran and Saudi Arabia.
“We will strengthen our relations with China. They have provided us an opportunity by investing in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” he said. Pakistan can learn from China, which has effectively tackled corruption and also improved people’s lives, he said.
On Afghanistan, Khan said the Afghan people have suffered most in the “war on terror”, and before that in the Afghan jihad. “Peace in Afghanistan means peace in Pakistan,” he said, adding that he envisions open borders with Afghanistan reminiscent to those within the European Union.