It is extremely important to understand that PM Imran Khan’s approach to India for good relations has to be properly planned and executed. Off the cuff and ad-hoc actions can backfire rather than help.
PM Imran Khan has expressed eagerness to improve relations with India even before taking the oath of office. He mentioned dialogue with India in his victory speech as well as invited celebrities to attend his oath-taking. He also twitted today that good relations with India are important to improve trade and achieve prosperity. His FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi went so far as to wrongly claim that PM Modi’s congratulatory letter to the Pakistani PM included an offer to open dialogue. This was promptly denied by the Indians.
While the new Pakistani government is showing eagerness to improve relations there has been no reciprocity from the Indian side rather they are engaged in cross-border shelling on an almost daily basis costing innocent civilian lives. Modi plans to diplomatically isolate Pakistan have also not changed.
I strongly object to this approach and consider it detrimental to the interests of Pakistan. I recommend to hold back for three reasons. First, the new government should hold a strategic review of its foreign policy before showing their eagerness for a thaw. Second, Modi has always used Pakistan as a punching bag during elections and he will be entering the election cycle very soon. We have to wait until elections are over. Third, we may have to approach India through an intermediary and Russia is the best candidate for that. We should open up a discussion with Russians to explore improving relations with India. Russia has previously helped us too during our wars with India so they have a history of working with both countries.
Imran Khan is a celebrity in India and also earned a lot of income from Indian media companies. It is probably for that reason he has never made any statements that could annoy his Indian fan base. I would like PM Imran Khan to inform the parliament and the nation how much money he has made from any contracts with Indian Media companies in the last five years. He should also provide a list of his Indian-American and Indian-British friends that also have contacts with Indian government officials. Transparency of such matters is important to avoid unnecessary suspicion which has been prevalent in last five years. I am sure Imran Khan does not want to be labeled as “Modi Ka Yaar” (Modi’s buddy).
By Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi