If BJP returns to power, there is a better chance of talks with India, says Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that there is a better chance of talks with India if the Bharatiya Janata Party returns to power in the Lok Sabha elections, Reuters reported. The 2019 General Elections will be held in seven phases from April 11 to May 19, and the results will be announced on May 23.

Khan told journalists in an interview that the Congress, if it comes to power, might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Kashmir due to fears of a backlash from the right-wing. “Perhaps if the BJP, a right-wing party, wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached,” he said.

The Pakistan prime minister claimed that Muslims in India, including those in Kashmir, face “massive alienation”. “I never thought I would see what is happening in India right now,” he said. “Muslim-ness is being attacked.”

Khan said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was campaigning for the elections based on “fear and nationalist feeling”, just like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Pakistan prime minister claimed that Indian Muslims who he knew had been happy with their situation in India for many years were now scared because of extreme Hindu nationalism.

Khan also objected to the BJP’s pledge in its election manifesto to abrogate Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which grants special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Khan called this a “major concern”, though he added that it could merely be electioneering.

Khan however, added that Islamabad was prepared to dismantle all extremist outfits in Pakistan, and stressed that the government had the full support of the Pakistan Army in doing so.

Pakistan had begun a crackdown on militant groups last month following a terrorist attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14, which killed at least 40 Indian soldiers. Islamabad detained 44 members of banned organisations, including Jaish e Mohammad chief Masood Azhar’s brother Mufti Abdur Rauf, and son Hamad Azhar on March 5. Two days later, it also claimed to have detained more than 100 people and taken control of 182 schools in the country.