PM Imran raring for TV debate with Modi

Published February 23, 2022
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to Russia's state-owned television network RT. — Screengrab via DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to Russia's state-owned television network RT. — Screengrab via DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed his desire to engage Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a television debate.

Mr Khan made the remarks during an interview with Russia’s state-run television network Russia Today on the eve of his two-day visit to Moscow.

“I would love to debate Narendra Modi on TV,” Mr Khan said in response to a question during the interview recorded prior to the first visit to Russia by a Pakistani premier in over two decades.

He said he would love to talk to his Indian counterpart and it would be great if differences were resolved through dialogue.

A news agency quoted Mr Khan as saying that it would be great for over a billion people of the subcontinent if differences between the neighbouring countries could be resolved through a debate.

Interestingly, Mr Modi is not known to engage in TV debates and hasn’t held a formal news conference since coming to power in 2014.

Mr Khan also expressed the hope that one day the Indian government would concentrate on pulling Indians out of poverty rather than focusing on race superiority.

Mr Khan recalled that when his party came into power in 2018, he tried to resolve longstanding issue of Occupied Kashmir with Indian through dialogue. However, he regretted that India did not respond positively to his overtures.

India that once used to be regarded as a secular country has now been taken over by “mad and racist ideologies”, said Mr Khan. “What is happening in India, is not what Indians are like, this is not India of Nehru and Gandhi,” he said.

In response to a question, the prime minister said he would love to emulate China in terms of bringing people out of poverty.

The prime minister said that developing countries learned from developed societies and his country was doing the same. “The nation we can learn the most from is China.”

Ukraine dispute

Talking about Russia’s conflict with the West over Ukraine, the prime minister said he didn’t believe that there was a military solution to any dispute.

The developing world was already facing a financial crisis because of the Covid-19 pandemic and it would face more problems due to the said conflict.

Mr Khan urged the top leaders of the countries involved to resolve the issues as soon as possible.

In response to a question, the prime minister said that greater cooperation between the US and China and “for that matter even with Russia will benefit mankind much more than a conflict”.

Islamabad enjoys good relations with Moscow and wants to further strengthen them, said the premier.

He also expressed the hope that sanctions on Iran would be lifted soon. Iran could provide gas on low rates but because of the sanctions Pakistan, which is running out of gas reserves, is unable to buy it.

Mr Khan also said that Pakistan’s North-South Gas Project with Russia had faced delays because of the sanctions imposed on a Russian company.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2022

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