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PM’s optimism

PRIME Minister Imran Khan says he thinks there may be a better chance of peace talks with New Delhi if his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins the general election. Talking to a group of foreign journalists in Islamabad on Tuesday, he 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 on the Kashmir issue, fearing a backlash from the right.
What the Prime Minister said has often been stated by some optimists on both sides who believed a popular leader in Pakistan or India can take hard and courageous decisions, which others cannot because of fear of public opinion. However, given the track record of Modi government, the optimism expressed by the Prime Minister seems to be misplaced. The Prime Minister is expecting better chance for resolution of the Kashmir dispute if Modi retains power in the coming election but he forgets that a few days back the BJP issued its election manifest pledging to scrap Article-370 of the Constitution that gave a special status to Jammu & Kashmir. The BJP has consistently advocated an end to Kashmir’s special constitutional status, which prevents outsiders from buying property there, arguing that such laws have hindered its integration with the rest of India. The BJP’s manifesto said that the party in the last five years made all necessary efforts to ensure peace in the IoK through decisive actions and firm policy. And everyone knows the BJP used political, economic and military machinations during its tenure to suppress legitimate aspirations of the Kashmiri people and turn Muslims in Occupied Kashmir into a minority. There has also been a policy of ethnic cleansing in Occupied Kashmir and armed forces have been given free hand to crush the freedom struggle. Modi government has also repeatedly turned its face away from the negotiation table on flimsy grounds and was more firm in reiterating India’s stance that J&K was its integral part. Prime Minister Imran Khan and his predecessors have been offering olive branch to India time and again but New Delhi is not ready even to discuss the Kashmir issue not to speak of its resolution. PM better not base his government’s policies on misplaced expectations from Modi.