Imran Khan propped up by Pakistan Army, says VK Singh

Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh speaks during the FICCI’s ‘Smart Border Management 2018’ conference at FICCI, in New Delhi, on Monday. PTI

Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh on Monday said that Pakistan Army continued to hold sway in Islamabad, as the new prime minister of the neighbouring country, Imran Khan, was propped up by the military establishment itself.

Singh questioned the rationale of hoping for a change in Pakistan's approach towards India after cricketer-turned-politician Khan took over as the prime minister. “Did you all expect a change? If a person is propped up by (the) Army, (the) army still rules.

“Let us wait and watch how things move, whether a person remains under army's control or does not,” he said.

He was replying to a query on the continued infiltration of terrorists from Pakistan to India even after the change of regime in Islamabad.

Singh's comment came just days after New Delhi's envoy to Islamabad, Ajay Bisaria, said that India was filled with “cautious hope” after the Tehreek-e-Insaaf came to power in Pakistan. Bisaria was also quoted saying in an event at Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata that a new “political window” for engagement between the two nations had opened up after the Khan government had taken office in Islamabad.

Singh's senior External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi will be in New York later this month to attend the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). They will be joined by their counterparts from the other South Asian nations for a meeting of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) foreign ministers on the sideline of the UNGA. Though speculation is rife about Sushma and Qureshi holding a separate bilateral meeting in New York, neither India nor Pakistan so far has confirmed it.

“I think our policy is very clear. A dialogue will happen provided the environment is made conducive for it,” Singh said on Monday.

Khan's information minister Fawad Chaudhry was recently quoted saying that Islamabad was planning to allow Sikh pilgrims from India to visit Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur in Pakistan without visas. The move was seen as an attempt by Islamabad to make a goodwill gesture and to send a message to New Delhi to set the stage ready for restarting bilateral engagement.

Singh, however, said that India has not yet received any official communication from Pakistan on the proposal.

Notwithstanding New Delhi's efforts to reach out to the new government in Islamabad, Pakistan Army continued to help terrorists cross the Line of Control and sneak into India. Indian Army foiled several infiltration bids along the LoC over the past few weeks.

The formal dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad remained stalled since January 2013, when the then Congress-led government headed by Manmohan Singh had suspended it in response to the beheading of an Indian Army soldier and killing of another by Pakistan Army personnel along the Line of Control at Mendher Sector in Jammu and Kashmir. '

An attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his former counterpart in Islamabad, Nawaz Sharif, to restart it in December 2015 had to be aborted within a fortnight after terrorists, who sneaked into India from territories under control of Pakistan and carried out an attack on Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab in January 2016.

Soon after Khan led his party to victory in the parliamentary elections in Pakistan, Modi spoke to him over the phone and congratulated him. Modi again wrote to Khan after he was sworn in as Prime Minister of Pakistan. He conveyed to Khan India's “commitment to build good neighbourly relations” with Pakistan and pursue “meaningful and constructive engagement for the benefit of the people of the region”.

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Imran Khan propped up by Pakistan Army, says VK Singh

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