Imran Khan offers TV debate with PM Modi to resolve differences

Imran Khan said that it would be so good for over a billion people of the subcontinent if differences between Pakistan and India could be resolved through a debate.

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that he would like to have a TV debate with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to resolve differences between the two neighbouring countries.

Khan made the remarks during an interview with Russia’s state-run television network RT on the eve of his maiden two-day visit to Moscow – the first by a Pakistani premier in over two decades during which he will hold talks with President Vladimir Putin and review exchange views on major regional and international issues.

“I would love to debate with Narendra Modi on TV,” Khan said in response to a question.

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He added that it would be so good for over a billion people of the subcontinent if differences between Pakistan and India could be resolved through a debate.

Responding to a question, Khan said when his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf came into power in 2018 he immediately reached out to India and asked the Indian leadership to sit down at the table and resolve the Kashmir issue.

He, however, regretted that India did not respond positively to his overtures.

Ties between India and Pakistan nose-dived after a terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in 2016 by terror groups based in the neighbouring country. Subsequent attacks, including one on an Indian Army camp in Uri, further deteriorated the relationship.

The relationship dipped further after India’s war planes pounded a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were killed.

The relations deteriorated after India announced withdrawing the special powers of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the state into two union territories in August, 2019.

India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and shall forever” remain an integral part of the country. It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.

India has told Pakistan that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Islamabad in an environment free of terror, hostility and violence.

Prime Minister Khan also expressed hope for a “peaceful solution” to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine as he emphasised that military conflicts could never solve problems.

“I am not a believer in military conflicts. I believe the civilised societies resolve the difference through dialogues and countries that rely on military conflicts have not studied history properly,” Khan said during the interview.

Khan said he was sure that people in Ukraine and Russia were aware of the consequences of an impending conflict.

President Putin on Monday signed decrees to recognise Ukraine’s regions of Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics as independent , escalating the tension in the region and increasing fears of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. He also ordered Russian troops into eastern Ukraine in what the Kremlin called a “peacekeeping” mission in the Moscow-backed regions.

The US-led West has warned Russia that it would face severe consequences for its actions in Ukraine.

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