Kashmir Dispute Must Be Resolved: Imran

Kashmir Dispute Must Be Resolved: Imran

9 May 2012
The News International
Babar Dogar & Moayyed Jafri

Lahore: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Tuesday said Pakistan could not forget that the core issue with India was the Kashmir dispute, which should be resolved and he would give it the top-most priority if he became the prime minister. He held that sincere leadership in the form of stable and strong governments in both Pakistan and India were imperative for ensuring sustainable peace in the region. In his keynote address titled ěRegional Progress Hostage to Pak-India Relationsî on the second and final day of the 2nd Aman Ki Asha Indo-Pakistan Economic Conference, Imran vowed to develop friendly ties with India after coming into power, as he believed that strong leadership had the capacity of taking vital decisions and ensuring peace in the region. He appreciated the initiative of media groups from India and Pakistan, including the Jang Group of Pakistan and The Times of India, through the Aman Ki Asha platform and claimed that people-to-people contact was not sufficient in this regard as it required strong political governments to break the impasse. The PTI leader stressed that the people ń particularly the youth from across the divide ń were desperate for a change in the relationship and dividends of peace shown to the public would definitely have a positive impact.Imran, while quoting the recent Arab uprising, claimed that the new generation and their use of social media was making an ideological change a viral phenomenon. Rejecting the tension and animosity between the two states, Imran said the relationship between the two sides should be based on trust, but unfortunately periodic pangs of inconvenience had led to the leadership of both countries not trusting each other. He claimed that because of cricket, he had had more interaction with India than any other politician in Pakistan. He also claimed to enjoy a close friendship with distinguished business magnates in India, who were also part of the visiting delegation, including Adi Godrej, Rakesh Bharti Mittal and Vikran Mehta even before he joined politics, saying that they had all been college friends in the UK. Imran Khan was of the view that Indians shared a lot of things in common with the people of Pakistan and there was no reason for living estranged. He deplored the fact that whenever initiatives were taken to bring India and Pakistan closer, an awful thing happened and the entire effort was derailed. ěOnly two strong leaderships having the capacity of taking bold decisions can ensure peace in the entire region,î Imran stated, and added that he believed that this all could be done provided it was backed with sincerity. Referring to Europe, Imran said that if the European Union (EU) could be evolved after two world wars that claimed the lives of millions of people, then surely India and Pakistan could ensure peace in the Subcontinent. He also said there should a balance of benefits while trading with India in which no one party could be considered a loser. Imran Khan also referred to the success stories of Dubai, Singapore, Turkey, Brazil and Malaysia, all of which had attained development and prosperity only due to good governance and improved infrastructure. He held lack of good governance in Pakistan as responsible for the bad situation, and claimed that the private sector was considered an engine of growth, but it was the government that provided infrastructure. He gave the government that provided infrastructure. He gave the example of China, which was spending billions of dollars on laying better infrastructure compared to Pakistan which threw away billions of dollars in assisting the United States in its war. Imran held that the subcontinent would have far ahead if only they had spent money on improving the lives of ordinary people instead of spending it on arms. He added that it would be a shame if they did not change the fate of the people of the subcontinent. He referred to a statement made by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani during his recent visit to Siachen in which the latter had stressed the need to spend money on people instead of wasting it on an arms race. Imran Khan maintained that he was foreseeing an intense battle and rivalry with India in two areas in future: the first was one in which two states raced to see which one could reduce poverty first, and the second was on the cricket pitch. Referring to a series with India in 1979, he claimed that after losing the series, the cricket team had decided to land in Pakistan at midnight to avoid the publicís wrath. But the environment has totally changed now, he held, and added that he had personally seen Pakistani youngsters celebrating the victory of the Indian cricket team in Lahore during his last visit. Regarding the trade relationship, Imran admitted to the obvious disparity in the balance of trade between the two sides and cautioned that trade between the two countries should be done in a way wherein Pakistan was not dominated by the sheer size of the Indian economy. Commending the initiative taken by the Aman Ki Asha movement, he said that although there had been significant advancements in bilateral relations, the key contribution had to come from governments by providing adequate infrastructure without which these efforts could not reach fruition. During the question-answer session, Imran ruled out chances of PTI entering into any alliance with any other political party. While defending his decision to attend rallies of the Defence of Pakistan Council, Imran Khan claimed the religious parties did not have any significant vote bank that could benefit him. He claimed that the PTI, as a political party, should engage every section of society. He claimed he was prepared to negotiate with disgruntled elements in Balochistan. While terming the military operation as ěno solutionî, he claimed they were participating in the rallies of the Defence of Pakistan Council just to engage them and understand their point of view. Imran Khan dispelled the impression that he was supporting their views and claimed that they wanted to take away the element of intensity and fanaticism from them. While terming his developing reputation as pro-Taliban nonsense, he humorously recalled how General Musharraf used to call him a terrorist without beard.