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Says BJP victory in elections is better chance of peace with India, Congress may scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Kashmir, fearing a backlash from the right, we can’t leave Kashmir boiling, Asia Bibi will leave Pakistan soon

Nation special report

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has 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 Indian general election due to begin on Thursday.

The prime minister said that if the next Indian government were led by the opposition Congress party, it might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Indian-occupied Kashmir, fearing a backlash from the right.

“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 prime minister Khan. “I never thought I would see what is happening in India right now,” said the former international cricket star. “Muslim-ness is being attacked.”

The premier 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 Jammu and Kashmir, which prevent outsiders from buying property in the state, was a major concern, though it could also be electioneering, the prime minister said.

Prime Minister 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.

He 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.

Moral bankruptsy

In another interview, Prime Minister Imran Khan assailed what he described as the “moral bankruptcy” of Indian and Israeli political leadership, accusing the incumbent parties of harbouring ambitions to illegally occupy land in the West Bank and Kashmir in defiance of international laws and “their own constitutions” for votes as both countries head to polls this week.

“When leaders in Israel and India show a moral bankruptcy in their readiness to annex occupied West Bank and IoK [Indian occupied Kashmir] in defiance of international law, United Nations Security Council resolutions, and their own Constitution for votes, don’t their people feel a sense of outrage and wonder how far they [the leaders] will go simply to win an election?” he asked.

War hysteria

Imran Khan blamed India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for “whipping up war hysteria” over claims that India shot down a Pakistani F-16 during a standoff in February, saying the truth is always the best policy.
“The truth always prevails and is always the best policy,” Khan said in a Tweet. “BJP’s attempt to win elections through whipping up war hysteria and false claims of downing a Pak F 16 has backfired with US Defense officials also confirming that no F16 was missing from Pakistan’s fleet.”