New Delhi: Upset over the Narendra Modi government’s repeated denial to his peace overtures and call for dialogue over the Kashmir issue, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday termed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as ‘anti-Muslim’ and ‘anti-Pakistan’.
Speaking to Washington Post, the cricketer-turned-politician said, “The ruling party [in India] has an anti-Muslim, anti-Pakistan approach.”
Khan’s reaction came on a query over why his overtures had been spurned by India ever since he came to power four months ago. Khan said that the key reason behind India spurning his gestures was because of the upcoming Lok Sabha 2019 elections.
He added, “India has elections coming up. They rebuffed all my overtures.” In the same interview with the Washington Post, Khan also stated that he “wants something done about the bombers of Mumbai” and called the 26/11 ” an act of terrorism.”
He added that he hopes that India will respond “positively” to Pakistan’s “goodwill gesture” of opening the Kartarpur border for the Sikh pilgrims. “I have opened a visa-free peace corridor with India called Kartarpur [so that Indian Sikhs can visit a holy shrine in Pakistan]. Let’s hope that after the election is over, we can again resume talks with India,” Khan said.
Khan’s remarks come after out India ruled out the possibility of holding talks with Pakistan unless it stops cross-border terror activities. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kartarpur corridor in Pakistan, Khan pitched for “strong and civilised” relationship with India but asserted that they have “one issue, which is Kashmir”, receiving a sharp reaction from India which regretted that he used the “pious occasion” of foundation stone-laying for Kartarpur Sahib corridor to make “unwarranted reference” to its integral and inalienable part.
India for a second time refused Pakistan’s invitation to PM Modi to attend the SAARC Summit, scheduled to be held in Islamabad next year, reiterating its stand that terror and talks cannot go hand-in-hand.
Earlier this year in September, a day after India called off foreign minister-level talks with Pakistan on the sidelines of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Khan took to Twitter to express his “disappointment”.
Calling India’s decision “arrogant”, Imran took an indirect dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He had tweeted, “Disappointed at the arrogant and negative response by India to my call for the resumption of the peace dialogue. However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture.”
However, Khan backtracked on his statement recently, saying that the “small men occupying big offices” did not refer to PM Modi.