Even before the official results were announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan, cricketer turned politician Imran Khan addressed media via a video link from his Bani Gala mansion in Islamabad to claim victory. But what made his address significant was his attempt to give insight about what to expect from Pakistan’s GenNext Prime Minister. He briefly talked about significance of trade ties with China, peace in Afghanistan and good relations with Iran.
However, it was his mention of India that made headlines across the borders and kept political analysts busy, who tried their best to decipher every single word Khan spoke about his neighbours. Khan offered to resolve all issues with India by sitting across the table, including Kashmir. In carefully chosen words, Khan said that Kashmiris are suffering since last three decades, and the issue of Kashmir needs to be resolved.
While addressing his counterparts in India, Khan said only talks can help solve issues, and military response is not an option. Given the popularity Khan enjoys, and the hope his elevation as PM elect bought in Pakistan, all eyes are on him at the moment.
In last three decades, Kashmir has seen how all major political parties in Pakistan have used K-issue to paddle support for themselves, but Khan’s fresh approach viz-a-viz offer to talks is yet to be tested.
Once Khan forms the government, and starts picking the threads of statecraft, it would be interesting to see how he will walk the talk when it comes to dealing with India. A part of his intentions are already clear that Khan wants to have good relations with India, and trade ties too, which, he believes will help two nuclear neighbours get their people out of poverty. But with general elections due in 2019 in India, can Narendra Modi, who earlier rode to power on anti-Pakistan rhetoric, respond to Khan’s offer and grab his olive branch?
Given Modi’s popularity and his party’s standing in both the houses of Parliament, political analysts are hopeful of a new start between two neighbours. After Modi became Prime Minister of India in 2014, it took him just a few months to make an unscheduled visit to Lahore, where he met his counterpart Nawaz Sharif. His visit had stunned his critics and opponents completely. Also, Modi’s during his visits to Kashmir has often invoked Vajpayee’s ideology and vision.
Given Khan’s keenness to resolve all pending issues with its arch rival neighbour, by means of talks and not war, have already put war mongers on both sides on the back foot. Now with all eyes fixed on Khan, everyone is asking just one question: can he do what none can? Let’s wait and watch!