Pakistan’s relationship with India is probably at its “lowest point”, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said even as he expressed hope that his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi will use his “big mandate” to resolve all differences, including the Kashmir issue. Khan and Modi are in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek for the two-day Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.
In an interview to Russian news agency Sputnik before heading to Bishkek, Khan said the SCO summit provided him an opportunity to speak to the Indian leadership to improve ties between the two neighbours. Khan said the SCO summit provided Pakistan a “fresh outlet” to develop its relationship with other countries, including India. “At the moment, our bilateral relationship with India is, probably, at its lowest point,” he said.
Khan said Pakistan was open for “any kind of mediation” and seeks peace with all its neighbours, especially with India, asserting that the three “small wars” have damaged both the countries that now grapple with the “greatest amount of poverty”. The Ministry of External Affairs last week said that no bilateral meetings had been planned between Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Khan on the sidelines of the SCO Summit.
Khan has twice written to Prime Minister Modi, seeking resumption of dialogue on all issues, including on Kashmir. Modi Thursday raised the issue of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan during his talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping here and said India expects “concrete action” by Islamabad to create an atmosphere free of terror for the resumption of dialogue. Khan said the emphasis should be on peace and resolving differences through dialogue.
“Our main difference with India is Kashmir. And if the heads of two countries resolve, if two governments decide, this issue can be resolved. But, unfortunately, we have not had much success from India so far,” he said. “But we hope now that the current prime minister has one big mandate, we hope that he will use this mandate to develop better relationship and bring peace in the subcontinent,” Khan said.
He said he believed that the money should be spent on getting people out of poverty, citing China’s example which has lifted millions of people out of poverty. “We hope that our tension with India decreases, so we do not have to buy arms because we want to spend money on human development. But, yes, we are looking for arms from Russia, and I know our military is already in touch with the Russian military,” Khan said. Pakistan has been holding joint military drills with Russia in the last couple of years besides going for defence purchases from it, triggering some concerns in New Delhi.