Met With ‘Brick Wall’ When I Approached PM Modi: Imran Khan

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Pak Prime Minister Imran Khan

DAVOS – Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has claimed that he met with a “brick wall” when he approached his counterpart Narendra Modi with a peace proposal soon after assuming office.

In an interview to Foreign Policy magazine on the sidelines of WEF 2020 here, Khan also said he had told Modi that Pakistan will act firmly if it was given evidence of any Pakistani involvement in the Pulwama attack, but India instead “bombed” Pakistan.

Tensions have escalated between the two neighbours following India withdrawing special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019.

Since then, Khan has been trying to seek global intervention to de-escalate the tensions.

On Thursday, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar categorically ruled out any third party role on the Kashmir issue, asserting that any issue between the two countries should be resolved bilaterally.

In the interview, Khan said that he is a firm believer that military means are not a solution to ending conflicts.

“… after taking office I immediately reached out to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. I was amazed by the reaction I got, which was quite weird.

“The subcontinent hosts the greatest number of poor people in the world, and the best way to fight poverty is to have a trading relationship between the two countries rather than spending money on arms. This is what I said to the Indian prime minister. But I was met by brick wall,” Khan said.

Khan took over the prime ministership in August 2018.

Referring to the suicide attack in Pulwama, Khan said he had immediately told Modi that “if you can give us any actionable intelligence (that Pakistanis were involved), we will act on it. But rather than do so, they bombed us.”

While noting that both countries are not close to conflict right now, Khan said that it is important that the UN and the US act.

When asked about US President Donald Trump having a very close relationship with Modi, the Pakistan Prime Minister said the relationship is understandable because India is a huge market, and of course every country would like the benefits of that market.

“My concern is not about the US-India relationship. My concern is the direction in which India is going,” Khan said.

Khan also sought to compare the events in India to what happened in Nazi Germany.

“Between 1930 and 1934, Germany went from a liberal democracy to a fascist, totalitarian, racist state. If you look at what is happening in India under the BJP in the last five years, look where it’s heading, you’ll see the danger. And you’re talking about a huge country of 1.3 billion people that is nuclear-armed,” he said.

About US-Iran tensions, Khan, in another interview to television channel CNBC, said he told Trump that war is not the solution.

“A conflict right now with Iran would be a disaster for developing countries,” Khan said.

Nepal In ‘Hurry’ To Handover SAARC Chairmanship To Pakistan

Press Trust Of India

Kathmandu: Nepal, which is holding on to the Chairmanship of the SAARC grouping since 2014, is “ready and very eager” to handover the position to Pakistan, Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said on Friday, hoping that New Delhi and Islamabad can sort out their differences through negotiations, keeping in mind the challenges facing the region.

The minister also assured India that Nepal will not allow its soil to be used against any of its neighbours and the Himalayan country will not participate in any great games.

“Nepal is not only ready but very very eager and in hurry to handover this Chairmanship of SAARC (to Pakistan) because we have been carrying this baggage for more than four years,” Gyawali told a group of visiting Indian journalists at a briefing on ‘Sagarmatha Sambad’ at the Nepalese Foreign Ministry here.

“So we want to look at the summit at the earliest,” he said and hoped that there will be some meeting point to mitigate the differences and organise the next summit.

The last SAARC Summit in 2014 was held in Kathmandu, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The 2016 SAARC summit was to be held in Islamabad. But after the militant attack on an Indian Army camp in Uri in Jammu and Kashmir on September 18 that year, India expressed its inability to participate in the summit due to “prevailing circumstances”.

The summit was called off after Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan also declined to participate in the Islamabad meet.

Gyawali said that India and Pakistan can sort out their differences through negotiations, keeping in mind the challenges facing the region.

“Nepal strongly believes in regionalism and multilateralism. So, we all know there are problem but no problem is immune that cannot be solved through negotiations or discussions,” he said.

In the last three years, India has been distancing itself from the SAARC, citing security challenge facing the region from militant networks based in Pakistan, which is also a member of the grouping.

Gyawali said the leaders of all SAARC countries, including Prime Minister Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Imran Khan, have been invited to ‘Sagarmatha Sambad’ and Nepal would be happy to host all the regional leaders and provide them some moments where they can discuss informally how can they develop the regional cooperation.

“It will be a fantastic idea” for all SAARC leaders to be present at the Saagarmatha, he said.

The Sambad (dialogue) is named after the world’s tallest mountain Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) which is also a symbol of friendship, he added.

“We have some common identities but what is ironical is that this region is least integrated in terms of physical connectivity, digital connectivity, economy, trade and many more. The largest chunk of the poverty is a big concern for the policy makers and governments in this region,” Gyawali said.

In December last, Prime Minister Modi said that India’s efforts for greater collaboration among the SAARC countries have repeatedly been challenged with threats and acts of militancy, in an oblique reference to Pakistan.

In a letter to the SAARC secretariat to mark the founding day of the bloc on December Prime Minister Modi said all countries in the region should take effective steps to defeat the scourge of militancy and the forces which support it.

Such efforts, he said, would generate greater trust and confidence to build a stronger SAARC.

Pakistan Prime Minister Khan, in his message on the 35th SAARC Charter Day, expressed the hope that the hiatus created in SAARC’s continuous progression would be removed.

Khan said Pakistan believes the effective and result-oriented regional cooperation can only be achieved by adhering to the cardinal principles of sovereign equality and mutual respect as enshrined in the SAARC Charter.

SAARC summits are usually held biennially and hosted by member states in alphabetical order. The member state hosting the summit assumes the Chair of the Association.

On December 8, 1985 at the first SAARC Summit in Dhaka, the leaders of the seven South Asian states – the Maldives, India, Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – signed a charter to establish the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). Afghanistan became the eight SAARC member in 2007.

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