Deposed Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that he wants a good relationship between Pakistan and India, but claimed there is “no chance” of this happening as long as the nationalist BJP remains in power.
In an interview with British newspaper ‘The Telegraph’ on Monday, 70-year-old Khan highlighted the economic benefits to be gained from the two neighbors trading with each other.
“The benefits would be huge,” Khan said, but then argued that the Kashmir issue was the main impediment.
“I think it is possible, but the BJP government is so hardline, they have a nationalistic attitude on issues,” he said.
“It’s frustrating because you don’t have a chance (of a solution) while they stir up these nationalistic feelings. And once this genie of nationalism is out of the bottle, it is very difficult to put it back in,” the newspaper quoted the former prime minister as saying.
“All we know is that they must have a roadmap for the solution of Kashmir (issue),” he added.
India has repeatedly told Pakistan that it wants normal neighborly relations with Islamabad in an environment free from terror, hostility and violence.
Khan said Pakistan had to cool its relationship with India when Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was lifted in 2019.
Relations between India and Pakistan are strained over the Kashmir issue and cross-border terrorism from Pakistan.
Bilateral ties crumbled after India struck down Article 370 of the constitution on August 5, 2019, revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and dividing the state into two Union territories.
Following India’s decision, Pakistan deteriorated diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian envoy. Trade relations between Pakistan and India have since been largely frozen.
Khan, who is leading a long march to Islamabad to push for his demands for an early election, said he would try to establish good relations with all of Pakistan’s neighbours, including Afghanistan, Iran, China and the US, if elected as the weather prime minister.
“We really need a relationship with both countries. What I don’t want is another Cold War situation where we are in blockades like in the last Cold War where we were allied with the United States,” he said.
“All of Central Asia, Afghanistan, went out of our orbit,” Khan stated, adding that his main concern for Pakistan was how to lift 120 million people out of poverty.
“The best way to do that is if we can relate to anyone, trade with anyone, so we can help our people,” he added.
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