Khan is nevertheless expected to take over as Prime Minister soon, ahead of the Islamic nation’s Independence Day that falls on August 14.
New Delhi: Making a huge outreach towards Pakistan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to former cricketer Imran Khan, who is all set to become Prime Minister there, “hoping that democracy will take deeper roots in Pakistan” and “reiterating his vision of peace and development in the entire neighbourhood”. Mr Narendra Modi also congratulated Mr Khan for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) bagging the largest number of seats in the national assembly there among all political parities.
This is the first direct outreach on the part of India towards Mr Khan. Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, despite its stellar electoral performance, had fallen short of a majority in the national Assembly. Mr Khan is nevertheless expected to take over as Prime Minister soon, ahead of the Islamic nation’s Independence Day that falls on August 14.
In a statement, the ministry of external affairs said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Mr Imran Khan, chairperson of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party and congratulated him for his party emerging as the largest political party in the national Assembly of Pakistan in the recently conducted general elections. The Prime Minister expressed hope that democracy will take deeper roots in Pakistan. The Prime Minister also reiterated his vision of peace and development in the entire neighbourhood.”
PM Modi’s hope that “democracy will take deeper roots in Pakistan” is significant, in the wake of popular perception that Mr Khan is the favourite of the Pakistan Army and ISI.
It may be recalled that India had on Saturday hoped the new Pakistani Government would work towards building a “secure South Asia free of terror and violence”. India’s veiled message was clear —that Mr Khan or whoever takes charge in Islamabad as head of the civilian government will have to seriously address the problem of terrorism sponsored by the Pakistani establishment if there is to be any hope of a dialogue between the two neighbours.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Saturday had said, “We welcome that the people of Pakistan have reposed their faith in democracy through general elections. India desires a prosperous and progressive Pakistan at peace with its neighbours. We hope that the new Government of Pakistan will work constructively to build a safe, stable, secure and developed South Asia free of terror and violence.”
India has been maintaining that there can be no talks (with Pakistan) and terror (by Pakistan) at the same time and has demanded that Islamabad act against terrorists operating from its soil as well as dismantle the terror infrastructure in the form of training camps that are flourishing across the border.
However, New Delhi has said there can be “talks on (the issue of) terror”, thereby emphasising that terrorism is the core issue so far as India is concerned.
However, New Delhi’s position has also been that India is ready to talk to Pakistan “on all issues” provided it “gives up” terrorism. The phrase “all issues” is usually taken to include the Kashmir issue which New Delhi maintains is one to be discussed only bilaterally with Pakistan.
Hours after emerging victorious in the elections, Mr. Imran Khan had declared, “I think it will be very good for all of us if we have good relations with India. If we both want to reduce poverty which should be the top priority for any government, we need to have trade ties, and the more we will trade, both countries will benefit. The unfortunate truth is that Kashmir is a core issue, and the situation in Kashmir, and what the people of Kashmir have seen in the last 30 years, their human rights have been violated.
Solutions cannot be found by the (deployment of the Indian) Army (in Kashmir). There are human rights violations whenever any Army goes into urban areas. The Kashmiris have really suffered. Pakistan and India’s leadership should sit at a table and try to fix this problem. It’s not going anywhere.”