PM's remarks about Modi taken 'out of context', Foreign Minister tells Senate panel

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement regarding the outcome of the ongoing elections in India “was taken out of context”, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the Senate’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.

During an interview to foreign journalists earlier this week, Prime Minister Khan had been reported as saying that Islamabad and New Delhi have a better chance of peace talks if Narendra Modi is reelected as the premier in India.

“Perhaps if the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] — a right-wing party — wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached,” he was quoted as saying.

In today’s session of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, senators criticised Prime Minister Khan’s statement, saying that Modi was a “danger to Pakistan”.

“You [Qureshi] said that India is getting ready for an adventure, [then] why did the prime minister say that dialogue can only take place if Modi wins the Indian elections?” asked PPP Senator Sherry Rehman.

“A state has friendly relations with another state, not with a personality,” she said, expressing bewilderment over how the prime minister could express his “preference” of who would win in another country’s elections.

PPP Senator Rehman Malik also objected to the prime minister’s statement, saying: “It is wrong to say that relations between India and Pakistan would improve if Modi wins [the Indian elections] as he talked about breaking up Balochistan.”

The foreign minister defended the prime minister’s statement and accused the Indian media of “sensationalising everything”. He said that the premier’s statement was “published out of context”.

He further said that Prime Minister Khan’s reservations regarding the BJP leader “are on the record and everyone knows his [Khan’s] opinion of Modi”.

Qureshi declared that only the Indian public will decide the winner and loser of the ongoing election.

Senator Javed Abbasi asked Qureshi about rumours that an Israeli pilot had also been captured along with Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan when the Pakistan Air Force shot down two Indian jets in February.

The foreign minister denied the reports and said that there had been a “mistake in the ISPR press conference” that was held after the aerial dog fight between the nuclear armed rivals, in which the ISPR chief had stated that there was another pilot undergoing treatment at a military hospital.

He asserted that there was no other pilot —Indian or Israeli — in Pakistan’s custody.

Also read: India plotted dangerous attack with Israeli help

Referring to the dossier sent by New Delhi containing ‘evidence’ of Pakistan’s alleged involvement in the Feb 14 Pulwama attack, Qureshi described it as a joke.

India has accused Pakistan of being involvement in the Pulwama attack, in which more than 40 Indian paramilitaries were killed. Pakistan has denied the allegations and has repeatedly promised to cooperate in the investigation if New Delhi provides “actionable evidence”.