Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he thinks there may be a better chance of peace talks with India if Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins the general election due to begin there on Thursday. Khan said that if the next Indian government were led by the opposition Congress party, it might be too scared to seek a settlement with Pakistan over Kashmir, fearing a backlash from the right.
"Perhaps if the BJP - a right-wing party - wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached," Khan told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview. This was despite the massive alienation that Muslims in Kashmir and Muslims in general were facing in Modi's India, said Khan, who took office last August. "I never thought I would see what is happening in India right now," said the former international cricket star. "Muslim-ness is being attacked." Khan said Indian Muslims he knew who many years ago had been happy about their situation in India were now very worried by extreme Hindu nationalism.
Nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India both claim Kashmir in full but rule in part. Khan said Kashmir was a political struggle and there was no military solution, adding that Kashmiris suffered if armed militants from Pakistan came across the border, leading to Indian army crackdowns. Relations between Pakistan and India, which have fought three wars since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, two over Kashmir, reached a crisis point in February after a suicide bombing killed 40 Indian paramilitary police in Kashmir.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi warned on Sunday that Islamabad had "reliable intelligence" that India would attack again this month. India described the claim as irresponsible. Khan said that it was vital for Pakistan to have peace with its neighbours, Afghanistan, India and Iran, if it was to have the kind of economy needed to pull 100 million people out of poverty.