There was no hint that 16 years later, he will take oath as the Prime Minister of Pakistan in August 2018.
Islamabad: Starting as an ordinary cricketer who was once ruled out for the national team, Imran Khan became one of the best all-rounders the game had seen.
Then he transformed into the finest captain and when he entered politics after the 1992 World Cup victory, he was never seen good enough to even win a seat in the Parliament, which he eventually did in 2002.
There was no hint that 16 years later, he will take oath as the Prime Minister of Pakistan in August 2018. The Kartarpur corridor was something he might have never considered in his wild dreams. And suddenly, PM Khan came out with the big announcement that Pakistan will open the corridor to facilitate the Indian Sikh community.
This was no ordinary announcement, keeping in view the tense relations between India and Pakistan. Can he be the one to lead Pakistan into becoming friends with India?
At least he started off well, announcing the Kashmir issue could be resolved and the two countries cannot afford a war.
After laying the foundation stone for the corridor connecting Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur area of Narowal district with Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur District, Mr Khan said: “If India takes one step forward, we will take two steps forward. We want to move forward in our relations with India. If France and Germany, who fought several wars, can live in peace, why can’t India and Pakistan.”
Speaking about his cricketing days, PM Imran Khan said: “There were two kinds of cricketers — one who were scared of losing and took no chances and the other who took risks and were always successful.”
The Premier added that when he entered politics, he also came across two kinds of politicians. “One who sacrificed the public good for their own benefit and the other who thought about the society, did not spread hate, took chances and big decisions as well.”
About Pak-India ties, the Premier said: “It is foolish for anyone to think there can be war between two nuclear-armed countries as there is no winning for anyone. So, if there can be no war then what other way is there other than friendship?”
Prime Minister Khan said people of Pakistan and India want friendship, stressing that the leadership of the two countries will have to be on the same page for the purpose.
He said Kashmir was the main bone of contention between the two countries. However, all bilateral issues can be resolved through strong political will and determination.
Former Pakistan high commissioner to India Arif Kamal said the opening of Kartarpur Corridor was a very friendly initiative taken by Islamabad to bridge the gaps between Pakistan and India.
“The corridor will open new chapter of cooperation and friendship between the two countries. India should realise that there is no option except negotiations to resolve all bilateral disputes between two countries. War is not a solution and any misadventure between two nuclear-armed states can result into catastrophe,” he added.
Mr Kamal said Pakistan and India and were facing highest ratio of people living under the poverty line and it was the need of the hour to alleviate poverty with mutual cooperation. “It is highly important to resolve Kashmir dispute in accordance with the UN resolutions, but there are certain other ways to move forward. Hopefully, PM Imran Khan will lead Pakistan into friendship with India,” he said. Defence analyst Dr ohammed Khan said the only major dispute between Pakistan and India was Kashmir, and it was imperative to resolve the issue to move forward and improve bilateral ties.
“The only viable solution to Kashmir issue is negotiation. Pakistan has always stressed on the need of dialogue to resolve all regional disputes. Opening of Kartarpur border initiative is highly appreciated by international community and would help project positive image of Pakistan at international level. Imran Khan may become the man to resolve all issues with India,” he maintained.
The poverty in the region, he said, can be alleviated by increasing trade activities between two countries. Positive engagements and people-to-people contacts between Islamabad and New Delhi are imperative to improve bilateral ties.