NEW DELHI: Pakistan has no favourites for the Indian elections due by next May. However, should rightwing candidate Narendra Modi become the next prime minister, Islamabad would be ready to work with him.
This was stated by Pakistan’s foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz in an interview published here on Thursday.
He told The Economic Times in Delhi that a delayed meeting of the directors general of military operations (DGMOs) of the two countries was finally expected to be scheduled when they have their weekly hotline contact on Tuesday.
They should be able to fix the issues on the Line of Control in Kashmir that had led to a breach of the ceasefire. One of the breaches occurred on Aug 6, which had seriously set back prospects of any progress.
Peace with India was Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s poll plank and he launched his peace mission immediately after becoming the prime minister, Mr Aziz said.
“There were positive results in the initial six weeks. Sharif and Dr Manmohan Singh spoke with each other twice over telephone. Thereafter, back-channel talks were launched between Shahryar Khan and S.K. Lambah. One round was held in Delhi and the other in Dubai.”
Mr Aziz met Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in Brunei and decided on six working groups to improve ties.
“However, the unfortunate incident of Aug 6 along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir was a big setback. This has affected bilateral relations. In my opinion it got entangled with India’s election process.”
He said Pakistan desired an independent inquiry into the Aug 6 incident and other incidents along the LoC this year.
“We also lost 11 soldiers last January. It is difficult to hold anyone responsible for firing at LoC at this stage without a thorough probe. It is important to hold on the ceasefire along LoC reached in 2003.”
Did he feel the Indian government lacked political capital to engage boldly with Pakistan with elections approaching?
“Both countries hope to maintain momentum in the run-up to Indian elections,” Mr Aziz said.
“From now on, till elections in your country, the focus could be on trade and purchase of power from India.”
Mr Modi has been widely seen as a Pakistan-baiter. Would Pakistan be comfortable working with him if he wins?
“Elections in India are a great experiment in democracy, which we monitor and follow closely. It is prerogative of the Indian people to elect whom they consider right for their future and we cannot comment on your electoral process. We do not have any favourites,” Mr Aziz said. “We will be ready to work with Narendra Modi if he is elected the prime minister of India. Or for that matter we will be ready to work with anyone who is voted to power.”