A day before he will be sworn in as Pakistan’s prime minister, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has made a fresh diplomatic overture towards India by underlining that the best way to honour the legacy of Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be to establish peace between India and Pakistan.
In a statement, the cricketer-turned-politician described Vajpayee, who died in New Delhi on August 16, as a known and respected political personality of the subcontinent and lauded his attempts for the betterment of India-Pakistan relationship.
“As Prime Minister, Vajpayee sahab took the initiative to further improving Indo- Pakistan relations. With the death of Vajpayee sahab, South Asian politics now left with a huge political vacuum,” said Mr Khan.
“There can be political differences but both sides of the border want peace. It is only through establishing peace that we can really honour the legacy of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In this moment of grief following the demise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I stand with the people of India,” Mr Khan said in a statement.
Soon after winning elections on July 26, Imran Khan had spoken about improving relations with India, but in the same breath also spoke about resolving the core issue of Kashmir. Not many in India are expecting better relations with Pakistan under Imran Khan’s leadership as he is seen to be firmly allied with the powerful military establishment.
In a statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Office also paid rich tribute to “a renowned statesman who contributed to bringing a change in India-Pakistan relations.”
“Mr. Vajpayee was a renowned statesman who contributed to bringing a change in India-Pakistan relations and remained a key supporter of SAARC and regional cooperation for development. The Government and people of Pakistan extend their heartfelt condolences to his family and to the Government and people of India,” the Pakistan Foreign Office statement said.
A staunch believer in better India-Pakistan relations, Vajpayee is known for his out-of-the-box initiatives to defrost stained ties between the two estranged neighbours. In an audacious gamble, Vajpayee had travelled to Lahore in the inaugural Delhi-Lahore bus service on February 19, 1999 to attend the Lahore Summit with Pakistan’s then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Sadly, Vajpayee’s peace initiative was sabotaged by Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Pervez Sharif, who launched the Kargil aggression against India a few months later. With Vajpayee in charge of the country, India humiliated Pakistan in the Kargil war.
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