Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said Pakistan could not improve its trade with India at the cost of the blood of the Kashmiris spilt by India, stressing that any normalisation with New Delhi under the current circumstances would be a major "betrayal" to the people of the occupied territory.
Interacting with the public in a live Q&A session, the premier said there was "no doubt" that the benefits would be immense if relations with India improved and trade and connectivity started, citing examples from other parts of the world such as the formation of the European Union which he said had benefitted all member countries.
"I tried since the first day after coming into power that we have [friendly] relations with India and the issue of Kashmir is resolved through dialogue but [considering] the situation right now, if we normalise relations with India at this time we will be doing a major betrayal with the people of Kashmir," Imran said.
He added that re-establishing ties at the moment would be tantamount to "ignoring all their struggle and the more than 100,000 Kashmiris martyred".
"There is no doubt that our trade will improve but all their blood will be wasted, so this cannot happen," the prime minister emphasised, saying Pakistan stood with the Kashmiris and was aware of the kind of sacrifices they had given and were giving.
"So this cannot happen that our trade improves at [the cost of] their blood," he said.
The premier added that talks could be had and a roadmap to solve the Kashmir issue could be devised if India took back its actions of August 5, 2019.
India had repealed Article 370 of its constitution on Aug 5 that year and thus revoked occupied Kashmir's special autonomy. Pakistan had subsequently downgraded its diplomatic relations with India and then suspended bilateral trade with it.
United Nations General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir, during his recent visit to Islamabad, had called on all parties to refrain from changing the status of Jammu and Kashmir and said a solution was to be found through peaceful means in accordance with the UN Charter and UN Security Council resolutions as agreed in the Simla Agreement between Pakistan and India.
He had also said that it was Pakistan's duty to bring the issue of Jammu and Kashmir to the UN platform with more vigour.
Speaking about the Palestine issue, Prime Minister Imran said it was similar to the Kashmir conflict.
He said there were only two end results to the issue: either a type of "ethnic cleansing" similar to that seen in Spain of Muslims and Jews, which he said couldn't happen due to the world's attention and increasing awareness about the issue, or a two-state solution.
"I think the kind of awareness and movement which have started in the international media and the world will take the Palestinians towards a two-state solution."
Rawalpindi Ring Road scam
The premier was also questioned on the status of the Rawalpindi Ring Road (RRR) project and when it would be completed to which he responded that it was a "good project" and one that was sorely needed for Rawalpindi. He said it was part of efforts to revamp the city and develop it as a new business district.
Regarding the RRR scam, he said a powerful team was working on its probe in the anti-corruption department and its result would come out in two weeks and then action would be taken on its basis.
Prime Minister Imran also received many questions regarding issues faced by citizens at the hands of housing societies or their properties being taken over by landgrabbers. He responded that a board had been made which would be responsible for investigating the legality of housing societies, and the conditions for regularising illegal housing schemes, while those which did not fulfil them would be closed.
He added that a committee headed by Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh would categorise these housing societies and there would be a crackdown against "taking people's money and running away",
"There will be laws so if anyone makes an illegal society they will be directly [charged] with a criminal offence so they are sent to jail," the premier said, also calling upon overseas Pakistanis to report their complaints of landgrabbing on the Pakistan Citizen Portal.
He announced that land records would be mapped and computerised in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad by August which would make it harder for landgrabbers to take over land and property.
'Opposition is worried'
While answering a question about reforms in the Punjab police and "continued injustice" meted out to citizens, the prime minister said correcting an existing institution was "difficult" and the problems with Punjab police were old and entrenched.
He nonetheless assured the nation that the police force was being reformed and it would eventually reach a level where it would be praised in a similar way as the KP police.
Responding to another caller from Badin on water issues, Imran said it was a problem for all of Pakistan which is why 10 dams were being constructed in the next 10 years to act as reservoirs. He said additional measures like a telemetry system would ensure just distribution of water between the provinces, adding that the issue of water being stolen by the powerful leaving the poor deprived would be tackled as well.
During the Q&A session, the premier also hit out at the opposition, saying they were "worried" and couldn't explain where the higher GDP growth estimates were coming from. He said they hadn't expected the government to exit the financial crisis and that their wish would never come true because it was based on "personal interests" rather than concern for the nation.
He also said that tax collection would increase after automation by June or July and the implementation of the track and trace system which would lead to a reduction in the debt burden and availability of more funds to spend on the people.
The prime minister also emphasised that boosting agricultural production was necessary for controlling inflation and detailed several initiatives taken by the government to support farmers such as the Kisan Card, improved storage and transport facilities, skills development, new agrarian technology and more.