ISLAMABAD Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he thinks there may be a better chance of peace talks with India if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP wins the general election due to begin on Thursday.
Khan said that if the next Indian government were led by the opposition Congress, it might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Jammu and Kashmir, fearing a backlash from the right, Reuters news agency reported on Tuesday.
“Perhaps if the BJPa right-wing partywins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached,” Khan told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview.
This was despite the massive alienation that Muslims in Kashmir and Muslims in general were facing in Modi’s India, said Khan, who took office last August.
“I never thought I would see what is happening in India right now,” said the former international cricket star. “Muslim-ness is being attacked.”
Khan said Indian Muslims he knew who many years ago had been happy about their situation in India were now very worried by extreme Hindu nationalism.
He said Modi, like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was electioneering based on “fear and nationalist feeling”.
The BJP’s pledge this week to propose stripping decades-old special rights from the people of Kashmir was a major concern, though it could also be electioneering, Khan said.
Khan did appear to offer India an olive branch, saying that Islamabad was determined to dismantle all Pakistan-based militias in the country, and that the government had full support from Pakistan’s powerful army for the programme. Those to be dismantled include groups involved in Kashmir.
Khan said Kashmir was a political struggle and there was no military solution, adding that Kashmiris suffered if armed militants from Pakistan came across the border, leading to Indian army crackdowns.
Khan said there was still the possibility if the polls turn against Modi in the next few weeks that India could take some further military action against Pakistan.
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