Ousted prime minister Imran Khan said on Monday that he wants a good relationship between Pakistan and India but claimed that there is “no chance” of this happening while the nationalist BJP remains in power.
In an interview with British newspaper ‘The Telegraph’ on Monday, 70-year-old Khan shed light on the economic benefits that could be achieved if the two neighbours establish trade with each other.
“The benefits would be enormous,” Khan said, but then contended that the Kashmir issue was the main impediment.
“I think it’s possible but the BJP government is so hardline, they have a nationalistic stance on issues,” he said.
“It is frustrating as you have no chance (for a resolution) as they whip up these nationalistic feelings. And, once this genie of nationalism is out of the bottle it is very difficult to put it back in again,” the paper quoted the former premier as saying.
“All we know is that they should have a roadmap for the solution of Kashmir (issue),” he added.
India has repeatedly told Pakistan that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Islamabad in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.
Khan said that Pakistan had to cool off its relationship with India when the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was abrogated in 2019.
Relations between India and Pakistan have been strained over the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
Bilateral ties nose-dived after India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcating the state into two Union Territories on August 5, 2019.
Following India’s decision, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian envoy. Trade ties between Pakistan and India have largely been frozen since then.
Khan, who is leading a long march to Islamabad to press for his demands for early elections, said that he would seek to establish good relations with all the neighbours of Pakistan including Afghanistan, Iran, China, and the US if he is elected as the premier again.
“We really need a relationship with both countries. What I do not want is another Cold War situation when we are in blocks like in the last Cold War we were allied with the United States,” he said.
“The whole of Central Asia, Afghanistan, became out of our orbit,” Khan stated, adding that his main concern for Pakistan was how to lift 120 million people out of poverty.
“The best way to do that is if we can have a relationship with everyone, to trade with everyone, so we can help our population,” he added.
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