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Pakistan elections: Imran Khan says he wants better ties with India, is not a Bollywood villain

Pakistan’s cricket star turned politician Imran Khan said India and Pakistan should resolve their dispute over the divided Kashmir region through talks.

world Updated: Jul 26, 2018 21:15 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
pakistan election,pakistan election results,imran khan
Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, on Thursday declared victory in Pakistan elections. (File photo)

Pakistani politician Imran Khan, who declared victory in the recently-concluded elections on Thursday, said Kashmir is the core issue between India and Pakistan, and said solving it will be good for the subcontinent.

Khan also said he was portrayed as a Bollywood villain by Indian media and expressed his disapproval, saying he wants better ties with the neighbour.

“I was saddened by the way Indian media recently projected me. They portrayed me as a Bollywood villain. I am one of those Pakistanis who wants good relations with India,” he said as results showed his Tehreek-e-Insaf party had a commanding lead amid tedious counting.

“If we want to have a poverty free subcontinent then we must have good relations and trade ties. The core issue is Kashmir. We need to resolve this. Blame game should end,” he said.

“Kashmiris have been suffering for long. If India’s leadership is willing then the both of us can solve this issue through dialogue. It will be good for the subcontinent also,” the former cricketer said.

Khan’s support from the Pakistan Army and his support to Islamist voices have given rise to apprehensions that he would take a harder position on engagement with India than the Pakistan Muslim League’s Nawaz Sharif.

Experts in India expect little chance for any turnaround in the frosty between the neighbours as they foresee the army continuing to dictate terms over Islamabad’s policy towards New Delhi.

For the Indian government, ties with Pakistan are fraught with risk in an election year. It requires a lot of political capital that an elected government in India is averse to spending in its final days in office.

Imran Khan, once a rock-star liberal and world-cup winning captain of Pakistan cricket team of 1992, had undergone major political transformation in the little over two decades history of his political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). This had seen him endearing himself to the army as well echo the right wing Islamist voices on certain issues.

In a speech claiming victory, Khan promised to transform Pakistan into a country that “my leader Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had dreamed of”, where the less fortunate prosper, the poor are taken care of, children have schools to go to, women have proper healthcare, youth have jobs — “a kind of governance system that has not been seen before in this country”.

Assuring accountability in the wake of Nawaz Sharif’s conviction in a corruption case, the former cricketer said, “First, I will be subjected to accountability, then my ministers and so on.”

On the grand Prime Minister’s house in Islamabad, Khan said he would be ashamed to live in such a large house. “Our government will decide what we will do with PM House.That house will be converted into an educational institution or something of the sort.”

On foreign policy, he said he will strengthen relations with countries like India, China, Afghanistan and the US. “No other country needs peace like we do.”

“We will strengthen our relations with China. They have given us a chance by investing in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, and we also want to learn how to improve people’s lives, drag them out of poverty,” he said on China.

He said he wished relations with the US to be mutually beneficial, not one-sided.

On allegations of rigging by other parties, he said he would support investigation if anybody has doubts. “We will stand by you.”

First Published: Jul 26, 2018 18:17 IST