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Ready for talks with Narendra Modi, says Imran Khan

New approach: Prime Minister Imran Khan speaking to Indian journalists in Islamabad on Wednesday.

New approach: Prime Minister Imran Khan speaking to Indian journalists in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Making another pitch for talks, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan called for India to make a fresh start during his term to revive the dialogue process between the two countries.

The talks have been stalled on the issue of terrorism for more than a decade.

“It is not in Pakistan’s interest that our soil be used for terrorism against others,” Mr. Khan said here on Thursday. He was speaking to a group of Indian journalists invited to cover the Kartarpur corridor groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday. “I can’t be held responsible for the past, hold me to account if I break my promises,” he said, asked about pending terrorism investigations into the 1993 and 2008 Mumbai attacks and the case against Dawood Ibrahim and Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Hafiz Saeed.

To a question on the status of the ban against Hafiz Saeed, the Pakistani Prime Minister clarified that the United Nations Security Council ban against him remained operational despite the Pakistan government ordinance lapsing in June. “There are UN sanctions against him and there is already a clampdown. On the rest of the 26/11 accused... The case remains sub judice [in trial],” he said.

‘Forget the past’

India and Pakistan must not keep focussing on the past however, said Mr. Khan. “The past is for learning from, not for living in,” he said, as he described the disappointment he felt about the cancellation of Foreign Minister talks by New Delhi in September this year.

“I tried to reach out to India from the very first day of my term. But I got a bad response when the meeting at the UN was cancelled. We decided that we could wait for a response until elections in India,” Mr. Khan said, maintaining that the resolution of Kashmir remained the main concern for Pakistan.

 

On Wednesday, the Ministry of External Affairs had criticised Mr. Khan’s reference to Kashmir during the Kartarpur corridor groundbreaking ceremony, calling it an attempt to “politicise a pious” occasion.

Mr. Khan, who claimed he had not seen the Indian response, said that resolving Kashmir was nonetheless important, and had been discussed in the past. Significantly, the Pakistani Prime Minister referred to the “4-step formula” for the resolution of Kashmir that was devised during the tenures of President Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, more than a decade after it had been shelved as a possible way forward to consider.

‘Positive response’

He said that the response in Pakistan to the corridor had been very “positive” and he hoped that India would respond to the “consensus for peace” which he said was shared by all stakeholders including the military in Pakistan.

To a question about whether he might consider extending the initiative from the Kartarpur shrine to other shrines that Indians are keen to visit, Mr. Khan said that his government hoped to promote religious tourism in the country, and could consider other proposals for shrines such as the Sharada Peeth in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Katasraj temple in Sindh as well as a recently discovered Buddha statue near Islamabad.


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Printable version | May 21, 2022 9:40:14 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/ready-for-talks-with-pm-modi-pak-pm-imran-khan/article62021278.ece