Islamabad: Reiterating his call for peace dialogue with India, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said he was ready to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi as he conceded that it was not in Islamabad’s interest to allow use of its territory for terror activities outside the country.
Khan was apparently referring to India’s stance that terrorism and talks cannot go together and Pakistan must take effective and credible action to stop providing shelter and support to cross border terrorism from territories under its control.
“There will be no dialogue with Pakistan unless it desists from terrorist activities against India,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said, in a rebuff to Pakistan, which had Tuesday said it would invite PM Modi to the SAARC summit.
“It is not in our interest to allow use of Pakistan’s territory for terror outside,” Khan said during an interaction with a group of Indian journalists here.
Khan said that people in Pakistan want peace with India and he will be happy to meet Indian Prime Minister Modi and talk to him. “The mindset of people here has changed,” Khan said.
When asked whether it is possible to resolve the Kashmir issue, the Pakistan Prime Minister said, “nothing is impossible.”
“I am ready for talks on any issue. There can’t be a military solution for Kashmir,” he said.
He, however, said the gesture for peace cannot be one-sided.
“We are willing to wait for (general) elections to get over in India for a gesture from New Delhi,” Khan said.
On punishing Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamat-ud Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed, who is carrying a USD 10 million US bounty, Khan said that there is already a clampdown against the latter and that he “inherited the issue” and “cannot be held responsible for the past”.
“There is a UN sanction on Hafiz Saeed under 1267. There is already a clampdown. The matter is sub judice. But I have inherited this. It is in our interest that our soil should not be used for terror,” the Pakistan PM told Indian reporters in Islamabad.
When asked about India’s ‘Most Wanted’ terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, Khan said, “Things always get stuck in the past. We should not live in the past but learn from it”.
Hafiz Saeed, the chief of Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), masterminded and executed the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks which claimed 166 lives. Put under house arrest after the attack, Saeed was later released by a Pakistani court in 2009.
Dawood, who masterminded the 1993 Mumbai blasts in which 257 people were killed and hundreds others injured, has been listed as a ‘global terrorist’ by the United Nations and continues to evade arrest and enjoy safe haven in Pakistan.
His presence in the neighbouring country was confirmed in a list of terror groups and terrorists released by the UN Security Council, which mentioned the former and his Karachi address.
Khan’s statement comes a day after India criticised him for politicising the ‘pious occasion’ of Kartarpur Corridor groundbreaking ceremony and raising the Kashmir issue.
Pitching for the normalisation of Indo-Pak ties, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said his government, the army and all political parties in the country are on the same page to improve ties with India and asserted that all issues, including Kashmir, can be resolved with “strength and will” of leadership of the two countries.
Reacting sharply to India’s Khan’s remarks, the External Affairs Ministry in a statement in New Delhi said, “It is deeply regrettable that the Prime Minister of Pakistan chose to politicise the pious occasion meant to realise the long pending demand of the Sikh community to develop a Kartarpur corridor by making unwarranted reference to Jammu and Kashmir which is an integral and inalienable part of India.”
Pakistan must fulfil its international obligations and take effective and credible action to stop providing shelter and all kinds of support to cross border terrorism from territories under its control, MEA asserted.