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 Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins the general election due to begin there on Thursday.
“Perhaps if the BJP – a right-wing party – wins, 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.”
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 Jammu and Kashmir, which prevent outsiders from buying property in the state, 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 militias in the country, and that the government had full support from Pakistan’s powerful army for the programme.
Nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India both claim Kashmir in full but rule in part.
Khan said Kashmir was a political struggle and there was no military solution.
Pollsters say Modi and the BJP’s re-election bid got a boost from a wave of patriotism after the suicide bomb attack and the Indian government’s fast response.
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.
The rolling election is held in phases and does not finish until May 19. The result is not due until May 23.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi warned on Sunday that Islamabad had “reliable intelligence” that India would attack again this month. India described the claim as irresponsible.
Khan said that it was vital for Pakistan to have peace with its neighbours, Afghanistan, India and Iran, if it was to have the kind of economy needed to pull 100 million people out of poverty. —Reuters