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Better chance of peace with India if BJP wins general elections: Pak PM

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Islamabad, Apr 10: Pakistan's Premier Imran Khan has said he believes there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and settlement of the Kashmir issue if Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party BJP wins the general elections.

India will go to elections in seven phases beginning from Thursday.

"Perhaps if the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)....wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached," Khan told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview.

He said other parties would be afraid of right-wing backlash in case of settlement on the Kashmir issue.

Khan said Kashmir was the central issue between the two countries.

India maintains that “the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the country and Pakistan is in illegal occupation of a part of the state's territory”.

Tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) militant group killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out airstrikes in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India on March 01.

Khan has said that Pakistan was taking action against all militants groups including the JeM.

Khan said that groups like the JeM were being disarmed under a serious drive to eliminate militancy from Pakistan.

"We have taken the religious schools of these groups under state control. It is first serious effort to disarm the militant outfits,” he said.

Khan said action was taken because it was important for the future of Pakistan. He also rejected the impression that Pakistan was compelled by the world to taken such an action.

 Dialogue only way for Pakistan and India to move forward: Qureshi

Islamabad, Apr 10: Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday said that the only way for Pakistan and India to move forward is through dialogue and underlined that major international players have a responsibility towards ensuring strategic stability in the South Asian region.

Addressing a ‘National Conference on Strategic Stability in South Asia’ here, he said that recent events were a "reminder of the heavy responsibility" that both Pakistan and India have to bear in working towards addressing the "underlying challenges" to strategic stability in the region.

He said the two countries "need to commit to a peaceful environment that is conducive to the socio-economic development and welfare of the people."

Tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in south Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.

Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out airstrikes, hitting what it claimed was “the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot”, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India on March 01.

Qureshi said that the South Asian security environment is in a "state of flux" and Pakistan expects the outside players to be mindful of their responsibility in terms of arms supplies to the region.

He hoped the key players would recognise the need for objective and even handed approach which is not tainted by considerations of geo political dominance and defining new regional security paradigms.

The foreign minister called on outside parties to be "mindful" of their responsibility in terms of arms supplies to the region in pursuit of their geo-political strategies.

The foreign minister said Pakistan is opposed to conventional and nuclear arms race in the region.

He said India's "massive acquisition of conventional arms coupled with its offensive doctrine such as cold start and expansion of strategic assets including nuclear submarines are developments with serious security implications for Pakistan."

The foreign minister said Pakistan needs a "willing and constructive partner to tackle the myriad daunting challenges" that the region is facing.

"A peaceful neighbourhood is the sine qua non [an essential condition] to build prosperous societies," he was quoted as saying by ‘Dawn’.

He said the country specific exemption by the Nuclear Supplier Group has had negative implications for strategic stability in the region.

Qureshi said the "recent belligerence" displayed against Pakistan and the assumption that the country could be subject to punitive strikes at will is a clear manifestation of threats to stability in the region.

As per the foreign minister, Pakistan had demonstrated its commitment to peace and stability by putting forward a proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime (SRR) — premised on three interlocking elements of conflict resolution: nuclear and missile restraint and conventional balance.

He said the proposal remains on the table and if pursued could lay the foundation for a lasting peace and stability in the region.

The foreign minister also noted that the Kashmir dispute has remained unresolved for over half-a-century and said that conflict resolution was the key to any successful strategic stability arrangement in the region.

"It lies at the heart of every crisis between Pakistan and India, including the events in February," Qureshi said, referring to the Kashmir dispute.

He said that the uncertainty underscores the "urgency" of finding a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue.

Qureshi said that India's “continued violation of human rights in Kashmir as well the denial of the right to self-determination of the Kashmiris had led to frustration among Kashmiri youth”.

"As a result, the freedom struggle in the valley has gained tremendous momentum and the plight of Kashmiris has caught the world’s attention," he said, adding, "what we are witnessing today in Kashmir is the backlash being faced by India due to its atrocities inflicted on Kashmiris."

The foreign minister also said that at the last minute, India had postponed a meeting on the Kartarpur corridor that was scheduled for April 02. He said that the meeting had been postponed without seeking Pakistan's views and came after a "productive" technical meeting on Mar 14.

"Our neighbour needs to understand that the only way forward is dialogue and not its suspension," he said.

(Agencies)

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