Pakistan’s Imran Khan Offers A TV Debate With PM Modi


Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan wants to have a TV debate with PM Narendra Modi. (File)

Islamabad:

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said today he would like to have a televised debate with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, to resolve differences between the two nations.

India and Pakistan have shared strained relations since gaining independence 75 years ago and fighting three wars since.

“I would love to debate with Narendra Modi on TV,” Imran Khan told Russia Today in an interview, adding that it would be beneficial for the billion-plus people in the Indian subcontinent if differences could be resolved through debate.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs has not immediately responded to request for comment by news agency Reuters.

India has in recent times made it clear to Pakistan that “terror and talks cannot go hand-in-hand”, demanding Pakistan to crack down on terror groups and punish terrorists, some of who are designated so by the United Nations.

India demands Pakistan to end cross-border terrorism, which Pakistan blames on “non-state” actors, who live and operate freely in Pakistan and areas under its illegal occupation in Kashmir.

Apart from the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, India has also asked Pakistan to crack down on terrorists and terror organisations responsible for the 2016 Pathankot terror attack in which 7 security personnel were killed, as well as the 2019 Pulwama terror attack in which over 40 Indian soldiers were killed.

India had carried out surgical strike on terror camps across the Line of Control after the Pathankot terror attack. The Indian Air Force also carried out an airstrike in Balakot after the Pulwama terror attack.

India has told Pakistan repeatedly that dialogue with Pakistan can only happen in a “terror-free” atmosphere. New Delhi has asked Islamabad to show evidence of its crackdown on terror before talks can be held.

“India became a hostile country so trade with them became minimal,” Imran Khan claimed, adding that his government’s policy was to have trade relations with all countries.

Imran Khan’s remarks follow similar comments recently by Pakistan’s top commercial official, Razzak Dawood, who, according to media, told journalists he supported trade ties with India, which would benefit both sides.

Imran Khan said Pakistan’s regional trading options were already limited, with Iran under US sanctions and Afghanistan involved in decades of war.

Pakistan shares strong ties with China, which has committed billions of dollars for infrastructure and other projects under its Belt and Road Initiative, part of which runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or PoK – part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir under Pakistan’s illegal occupation.

Imran Khan’s interview came on the eve of a visit to Moscow, where he will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin – the first visit by a Pakistani leader to Russia in two decades.

The two-day visit for talks on economic cooperation was planned before the current crisis over Ukraine.

“This doesn’t concern us, we have a bilateral relation with Russia and we really want to strength it,” Imran Khan said of the Ukraine crisis.

(Inputs from Reuters)
 

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