Former prime minister Imran Khan has sought the need for Pakistan to mend ties with India but made it clear that a good relationship would be impossible while the nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) remains in power.

In an interview with British newspaper The Telegraph on Monday, the PTI chairman shed light on the economic benefits that could be achieved if the two neighbours establish trade with each other.

“The benefits would be enormous,” he said, but then contended that New Delhi’s stance on Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) was the main impediment.

“I think it’s possible but the BJP government is so hardline, they have a nationalistic stance on issues.

“It is frustrating as you have no chance (for a resolution) as they whip up these nationalistic feelings. And, once this genie of nationalism is out of the bottle it is very difficult to put it back in again,” the former premier told The Telegraph.

“All we know is that they should have a road map for the solution of Kashmir. People in Pakistan cannot accept that Kashmiris, who were given their right by the international community to choose their destiny through a plebiscite, have seen India steamroll this resolution.”

Imran added that Pakistan had to cool off its relationship with India when the neighbouring country took away the statehood of IIOJK.

Pakistan formally downgraded its trade relations with India in August 2019 to the level of Israel with which Islamabad has no trade ties at all. The decision had come as a reaction to India’s decision to revoke Article 370 of its constitution that granted occupied Kashmir a special status.

Trade with everyone

The PTI chief went on to say that he would seek to establish good relations with all the neighbours of Pakistan including Afghanistan, Iran, China, and the US if he is elected as the premier again.

“We really need a relationship with both countries. What I do not want is another Cold War situation when we are in blocks like in the last Cold War we were allied with the United States,” he said.

“The whole of Central Asia, Afghanistan, became out of our orbit,” Imran stated, adding that his main concern for Pakistan was how to lift 120 million out of poverty.

“The best way to do that is if we can have a relationship with everyone, to trade with everyone, so we can help our population,” he concluded.

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