Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he hopes his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will use the big mandate he won in the recent elections to improve relations between the two countries and usher in peace in the region.
The two countries should focus on peace and resolving their differences through dialogue, and even issues such as Kashmir can be resolved if the two governments decide to tackle it, Khan said in an interview with Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency.
Tensions flared between India and Pakistan in February after suicide attack by Jaish-e-Mohammed at Pulwama in Kashmir killed 40 CRPF troops. Khan and Modi exchanged tweets after the elections and the Pakistani leader sent a message congratulating the Indian premier. However, there are no signs of a resumption of contacts between the two sides.
“And so our emphasis should be peace, resolving our differences through dialogue. And our main difference with India is Kashmir. And if the heads of two countries resolve, if two governments decide, this issue can be resolved,” Khan said.
“But, unfortunately, we have not had much success from India so far. But we hope now that the current prime minister has one big mandate, we hope that he will use this mandate to develop better relationship and bring peace in the subcontinent.”
Khan said Pakistan had tried to improve relations even before India’s polls in April-May but had not made headway during the electoral campaign.
“We actually tried before the elections, but unfortunately we felt that before the elections, Prime Minister Modi’s party was building up this hysteria, unfortunately, anti-Pakistan feeling among its people, appealing to its right-wing Hindu nationalists, and so there was no chance of peace before the elections,” he said.
With the elections over, Pakistan is hoping the Indian leadership will “avail this opportunity that Pakistan is offering — that let’s resolve all our differences through dialogue”, he added.
Khan said the two nuclear-armed countries cannot think of resolving differences through military means. “It is madness. So we hope that now we can progress, use dialogue to resolve our differences,” he said.
Asked if Russia could mediate between India and Pakistan, Khan replied: “Pakistan is looking for any kind of mediation because Pakistan believes that progress comes with peace. And when you have tensions with your neighbours, it detracts from resources that could be spent on human beings. They end up getting spent on unproductive things like arms. And so we believe in peace with all the neighbours, especially with India.”
Khan described the Kartarpur corridor linking India to a gudwara where Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, spent his last years as “a great initiative from Pakistan” and said he hoped “India will respond positively to these initiatives to further people-to-people contact”.
“But, unfortunately, people-to-people contact only works when the governments also try to get closer. You can’t have a situation where the governments have animosity towards each other, and expect people to get closer. It does not happen,” he said.