SRINAGAR: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he believes there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and settle the Kashmir issue if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party BJP wins the general elections.
India will go to elections in seven phases beginning from Thursday.
“If the next Indian government is led by the opposition Congress party, it might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Indian-occupied Kashmir (sic), fearing a backlash from the right,” the prime minister, according to the Express Tribune, told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview.
“Perhaps if the BJP – a right wing party — wins, some kind of settlement on Kashmir could be reached,” he said. “This is despite the massive alienation that Muslims in IoK and India are facing under the Modi regime.”
The prime minister added, “I never thought I would see what is happening in India right now. Muslim-ness is being attacked.”
Khan said Indian Muslims he knew — who many years ago were happy about their situation in India — were now very worried by extreme Hindu nationalism.
“Modi, like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is electioneering based on fear and nationalist feeling,” he said.
The prime minister noted that the BJP’s pledge this week to propose stripping decades-old special rights from the people of Kashmir that prevent outsiders from buying property there is a major concern, though it could also be electioneering.
He added that “the Kashmir liberation movement was a political struggle and there was no military solution”.
Imran reiterated that Islamabad was determined to dismantle all militant groups in the country and that the government had the full support of the army for the programme.
The premier said if the polls turned against Modi in the next few weeks, there was still a possibility that India could take military action against Pakistan to boost his party’s election campaign.
“It is vital for Pakistan to have peaceful ties 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,” he remarked.