Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has claimed that the approach of the ruling BJP was “anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan” and expressed the hope that the stalled bilateral talks could resume after the general elections in India next year.
Prime Minister Khan said his government was keen to bring the perpetrators of the 2008 Mumbai attack to book, asserting that it was in the interest of Pakistan.
“India has elections coming up. The ruling party [of India] has an anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan approach. They rebuffed all my overtures….Let’s hope that after the election is over, we can again resume talks with India,” Khan said in an interview with ‘The Washington Post’ on Thursday.
The general elections are due to be held in India in April or May 2019.
Speaking about the Mumbai attack, Khan said Pakistan wants “something done about the bombers of Mumbai”.
“I have asked our government to find out the status of the case. Resolving that the case is in our interest because it was an act of terrorism,” he said.
On November 26, 2008, 10 attackers arrived by sea route and opened fire indiscriminately, killing 166 people.
Nine of the attackers were killed by police while lone survivor Ajmal Kasab was captured and hanged after handed down death sentence by an Indian court.
After taking charge as prime minister in August this year, Khan said he was ready for peace talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Pakistan sent a proposal in September to hold foreign ministers’ level talks in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
India, however, accepted and then rejected the proposal, blaming Pakistan for killing a security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir and accusing it of glorifying terrorism.
Both India and Pakistan gave the green signal to the much-awaited Kartarpur Corridor last month. The 4-km-long corridor will connect Dera Baba Nanak in India’s Gurdaspur district with Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib Narowal in Pakistan.
The corridor will provide visa-free access to the Indian Sikh pilgrims to the gurdwara which is located in Shakargarh in Narowal district of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
“I have opened a visa-free peace corridor with India called Kartarpur [so that Indian Sikhs can visit a holy shrine in Pakistan]. Let’s hope that after the election is over, we can again resume talks with India,” Khan said in the interview.
It is said that Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, had spent more than 18 years of his life there. The Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara is located on the banks of the Ravi River, about three-four kilometres from the border in Pakistan.
He dismissed claims that there were safe havens for terrorists in Pakistan, saying that “there are no sanctuaries in Pakistan”.
“When I came into power, I got a complete briefing from the security forces,” he said, “They said that we have time and time again asked the Americans, “Can you tell us where the sanctuaries are, and we will go after them?” There are no sanctuaries in Pakistan.”
Asked about the relationship with US, he said he would never want to enter into relationship with that country where “Pakistan is treated like a hired gun”.
“I would never want to have a relationship where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun — given money to fight someone else’s war,” Khan said in an interview with the Washington Post on Thursday, referring to the 1980s war against the Soviet Union and the ongoing war on terror.
“We should never put ourselves in this position again. It not only cost us human lives, devastation of our tribal areas, but it also cost us our dignity. We would like a proper relationship with the US,” he said.
Replying to a query about his anti-US sentiments, Khan said disagreeing with Washington’s policies did not make him “anti-American”. “This is a very imperialistic approach. You are either with me or against me.”
Khan also stood by his stand against drone attacks and questioned why anyone would support it. “Who would allow a drone attack in their country when, with one attack, you kill one terrorist and 10 friends and neighbours?” he questioned. “Has there ever been a case of a country being bombed by its own ally? Of course I objected to it. All it did was create more anti-Americanism.”
PTI and agencies