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Want friendly ties, talks with India says Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD, July 26: Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who is set to be the new Pakistan Prime Minister, on Thursday said his government would seek good relations with India and would like leaders of the two countries to sit across the table and resolve all disputes, including the “core issue” of Kashmir.

“If Indian leadership is ready, we are ready to improve the relationship. If you take one step, we are ready to take two. Now it is a one-sided blame on Pakistan. We have to resolve the main issue through dialogue. This is important for the sub-continent,” Khan told the media here as results indicated that his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was close to a majority in the 272-member National Assembly.

At the same time, he blew hot over the Kashmir issue, alleging that there were human rights violations by security forces.

“Kashmiri people have suffered in the last 30 years,” said Khan, known for his hardline towards India and is widely believed to be having the backing of the Pakistan Army.

He said there has been a blame game between India and Pakistan with New Delhi holding Islamabad responsible for all its problems. And Pakistan is blaming India for what is happening in Balochistan, he said.

“We are (back to ) square one. We are ready to improve the relationship with India. Now it is a one-way blame on Pakistan.”

He said trade between India and Pakistan can be instrumental in eradicating poverty in the sub-continent which should be the focus of the two countries.
Khan lamented that the Indian media had projected him as a Bollywood villain. “I am a Pakistani who is most popular in India because I played there. I am a Pakistani who wants a friendly relationship with India.”

Khan said his government would take all efforts for bringing peace in Afghanistan with which Pakistan would like to have open border while trying to strengthen ties with Pakistan’s all-weather friend China.

With the US, he said, his administration would like to have mutually beneficial ties. “This has been one way so far. We should have a balanced relationship.”

Set to capture power after being in politics for 22 years, the firebrand politician said he would not indulge in political victimization but would implement the law against those who go against the law of the land.
He said he would root out corruption which was the bane of the country and he would himself be accountable first.

“The National Accountability Bureau will be strengthened and the law will be the same for everyone.

He said the Pakistan economy was the most challenged and dysfunctional with high fiscal and trade deficits and the value of rupee plunging deep.
Khan pledged austerity measures for the government and said he himself won’t live in a “palace-like” Prime Minister’s residence but would prefer a house in the minister’s enclave.

On his priorities as the head of the new government, Khan said governance system had collapsed in Pakistan and he would like to set it right first with all policies for poor and the common man and not for elites.
“All our policies will be for workers, farmers. We are not able to give proper healthcare and Pakistan has the highest maternal mortality rate.”
Rejecting his rivals’ charges that the just-concluded elections were rigged in his favour, Khan said this was one of the cleanest polls Pakistan ever held.

“I want to tell those who are saying that elections are rigged that we are ready to investigate,” he said. (IANS)