ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman, Imran Khan on Wednesday expressed shock over the revelation by an Indian journalist that the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had held a secret meeting with his Indian counterpart in 2014 on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu.
Imran said he believed peace between Pakistan and India was critical for the prosperity of the people of the subcontinent, especially as peace will ensure economic vibrancy through trade and investment opportunities, according to the statement issued here.
The PTI chairman said the best way to reduce poverty in the subcontinent is through peace and trade. However, he added peace requires conflict resolution and de-escalation of military tensions along the border, the LOC and the Working Boundary. Khan also asserted that it is the leadership that must take bold initiatives and convince their people to move forward with dignity and confidence.
Unfortunately, Imran said, the present leadership of Pakistan and India lack the courage and the conviction, which has led them to hold secret meetings that can be denied.
“While PM Modi is a prisoner of his extremist right wing supporters, PM Sharif conveys a deep-rooted fearfulness of the establishment,” he said.
“This inability to move forward confidently by Sharif is also undermining the credibility of the Pakistan military at a critical juncture in our history when the military is combating terrorism across the country,” he added.
Imran expressed dismay that the secret meeting in Kathmandu was enabled by an Indian steel magnate. Given the Sharifs steel business interests, he said that PM Sharif clearly has a conflict of interest between these and the national interest of the country.
The PTI chief reminded how PM Sharif was the first Pakistani premier who, while visiting New Delhi for Modi’s inauguration as PM, failed to find time to meet the APHC delegation – because of his meetings with Indian business magnates.
“Now it seems the Kathmandu secret meeting was also the result of facilitation by steel magnate Sajjan Jindal – with whom the Sharif family also has business ties.”
Serious concerns over conflict of interest were raised at the time of the PM’s India visit and his meetings with Indian industrialists, especially the steel magnates, where it was feared Pakistan may unilaterally concede transit rights to India’s steel magnate across Pakistan through to Afghanistan, he said.
Imran said the clandestine manner of Mr Sharif’s interaction with the Indian PM in Kathmandu, through the steel magnate interlocutor, bolsters these concerns.