Press Trust of india

India hopes new Pak govt will work towards terror-free South Asia

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New Delhi, Jul 28: In its first reaction on general elections in Pakistan, India today hoped the new government in Islamabad will work constructively to build a safe, stable and secure South Asia “free of terror” and “violence”.

Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Raveesh Kumar said India desires a “prosperous and progressive Pakistan at peace with its neighbours”.

He said India welcomed that the people of Pakistan have reposed their faith in democracy through general elections.

“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,” Kumar said.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan is likely to become Pakistan’s next prime minister as his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has emerged as the single largest party in the elections held on July 25, winning 116 of the 270 seats.

Jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) with 64 seats and former president Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with 43 seats are placed at number two and three respectively.

As election results indicated that his party was on course to wrest power, Khan on Thursday said Pakistan was ready to improve its ties with India and his government would like the leaders of the two sides to resolve all disputes, including the “core issue” of Kashmir, through talks.

“If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but at least (we) need a start,” he said.

Ties between India and Pakistan have nose-dived in the last few years over cross-border terrorism. Relations worsened after terror attacks by Pakistan-based groups on several military bases in India.

New Delhi has been maintaining that Pakistan must stop terror activities from its soil for any meaningful talks between the two countries to resolve the outstanding issues.

Though Khan talked about his willingness to engage with India, strategic affairs experts here said there was very little possibility of any improvement in ties between the two neighbours if he becomes Pakistan’s prime minister.

They said the former cricketer has been “propped” by the Pakistani military and he was unlikely to change Islamabad’s policy towards New Delhi.

“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 had served as India’s high commissioner in Islamabad.

Former Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor said that he does not expect Pakistan to stop its proxy war with India under Khan’s leadership as he has been “propped” by the Pakistani military establishment.

“They will continue with the proxy war. They will continue to create disturbances in Jammu and Kashmir. I do not think there will be any improvement in the relationship between the two countries,” said Kapoor.

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