Pakistan not worried about BJP, Modi coming to power: Imran Khan

New Delhi, Dec.8: Participating in the ongoing Hindustan Leadership Summit being held here, former cricketer and leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party, Imran Khan, said his country is not all worried or concerned about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or Narendra Modi coming to power in India.

“Who gets elected in India is not Pakistan’s business. It is the business of the people of India,” said Khan at the closing session of the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit.

“We had concerns about a BJP Government when they came to power in India for the first time (1998-2004). But they (BJP) were the ones who reached out to us, they did quite a lot for improving the India-Pakistan relationship,” Khan said, referring to the NDA Government that was led by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Khan used the occasion to make a strong pitch for the revival of peace talks and resolution of the Kashmir issue. He said it would be a good idea for India and Pakistan to run a civil nuclear plant along the border jointly, for enlarging the constituency for peace.

It should be “owned and operated jointly by the two countries and should be supplying power to both countries,” he said.

Drawing heavily from the experiences of post-World War II Europe, where once warring countries are now living in peace, Khan said coal and steel plants along the border have always enlarged the constituency of peace.

During his address, he recalled how both India and Pakistan had come extremely close to finding a solution to the long-standing Kashmir dispute in 2008, and added that had 26/11 not happened, the peace process would not have been pushed back.

Khan said former Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Ahmad Qureshi had told him that “the back channel contacts had moved very far, (and that) the two sides had moved very close to some sort of a solution.”

“Neither side wanted to reveal until the full package was finalised as it could have been sabotaged, but then unfortunately Mumbai happened,” he said.

Stating that India and Pakistan needed to move forward on the Kashmir issue, Khan said: “The solution should not be publicly debated as there would be too much vested interest that would tear it apart.”

On the recent war cries over Kashmir, the cricketer-turned-politician scoffed at the idea and said even Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif could not have said so. “There can be no solution through military or through militancy, two nuclear countries do not think of war. The only solution is through talks and as far as I know we came pretty close.”

Before Mumbai, he said: “I saw more improvement in five years than in five decades.” But now, Khan said, for there to be a solution wanted to “see a new government come into India” and a strong one at that.

In the session themed ‘India and Pakistan: Working Things Out’, Khan played statesman and politician, negotiating his way through several sensitive topics such as his pro-Taliban image, Lashkar-e-Taiba founder Hafiz Saeed, peace in the Indian subcontinent.

He said that there was a need for “visionary leadership” in both countries to sort out common issues. He urged New Delhi and Islamabad to learn lessons from China on addressing poverty.

“In the past 20 years, China has taken 400 million people out of poverty. That is remarkable.” (ANI)