New Delhi: Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, Ajay Bisaria, on Friday called on Imran Khan, seen as Pakistan’s prime minister designate after his Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) party scooped up the largest number of seats in the 25 July national elections.
This was the first call on Khan by Bisaria and the Indian high commission termed the meeting as “candid” in which Bisaria put forth India’s concerns on terrorism and cross border infiltration, according to the text of a statement by the Indian high commission posted on Twitter. Bisaria also gifted Khan a bat autographed by the entire Indian cricket team, the statement said.
India accuses Pakistan of pushing in terrorists across the line of control (LoC) in Kashmir to stoke terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of India, a charge Pakistan denies though it admits to supporting a “freedom movement” in Kashmir.
“Indian HC Ajay Bisaria called on Mr Imran Khan, Chairperson & senior leadership of PTI. HC congratulated @ImranKhanPTI on his electoral success, discussed range of issues, prospects of India-Pak relationship. HC gifted a cricket bat autographed by the entire Indian cricket team,” said a Twitter post by the Indian High Commission to Islamabad.
Besides Khan, party colleagues Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi (Pakistan’s former foreign minister in the previous Asif Ali Zardari government before he switched sides to join Imran Khan) and Shireen Mazari—seen as the PTI’s possible pick for Pakistan’s next foreign minister—were also present at the meeting with Bisaria, pictures posted on PTI’s Twitter account showed.
Khan who was to take oath on 11 August, is now expected to take up the office of prime minister on 18 August, according to Pakistani media reports quoting PTI senator Faisal Javed. The PTI on Monday formally announced Khan as the new Pakistan prime ministerial candidate.
Bisaria’s call on Khan comes after a telephone conversation between Khan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 30 July, in which the latter congratulated Khan on his electoral success. During the conversation, Modi expressed hope that democracy would take deeper roots in Pakistan while sharing his vision for peace and development in the entire neighbourhood.
Pakistan went to polls on 25 July and the PTI had emerged as the single largest party with 116 seats after the Election Commission of Pakistan released results for 270 of 272 National Assembly constituencies.
In a statement on 28 July, India’s foreign ministry said that New Delhi desired a “prosperous and progressive Pakistan at peace with its neighbours.” The statement had also added that India welcomed that the fact that the “people of Pakistan have reposed their faith in democracy through general elections,” adding that New Delhi hoped the newly elected government would work constructively to build a safe, stable, secure and developed South Asia, free of terrorism and violence.
India’s comments followed remarks by Khan on 26 July in which he said he wanted to have good relations with India and work to resolve all outstanding issues through dialogue.
“We should sit across and resolve the issues instead of we blaming India for problems in Balochistan and they blame us for problems in Kashmir. I can say that if you (India) will take one step forward, we will take two steps forward,” Khan had said.