Washington, Jul 24: Showering praise on former Indian PM Vajpayee, the Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has claimed that his country and India were "pretty close" to resolving the Kashmir issue during the regimes of Atal Bihari Vajpayee and military ruler Gen Pervez Musharraf.
"They came pretty close on resolving the Kashmir," Khan said in response to a question during his appearance at the US Institute of Peace, a US-Congress funded think-tank on Tuesday. "It is a sensitive issue," he added without any elaboration. He insisted that Kashmir was the bone of contention between the two countries.
He said after coming to power, he first tried to reach out to India. "India is a country which we've had turbulent relationship with. Unfortunately, because of one issue of Kashmir, whenever, we have tried, whenever relationship has started to move in the right direction with India, some incident happens and that's all related to Kashmir, and we go back to square one," he said. Khan said Pakistan's top priority was to build good relationships with their neighbours apart from putting an end to corruption and building strong institutions. "We must have stability in our region," he said.
"The best way we can reduce poverty is that we start trading with each other," Khan said. Deflecting a question on Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed, who was recently arrested for the seventh time, Khan said it is in the interest of Pakistan that "we do not allow any armed militant groups to operate" in our country.
The Pulwama attack, he claimed, was "an indigenous thing."
Pakistan, he said, came in picture, because a group (Jaish-e-Mohammed) based in his country and also in Kashmir claimed responsibility for the attack.
"The country has had enough of militant groups. Pakistan is now determined. We would not be disarming them if the security forces were not behind this decision," he said. (UNI)