Tuesday Oct 23, 2018
RIYADH: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday vowed to hold peace talks with India following national elections in the neighbouring country, after a similar offer from Pakistan was "rebuffed" by New Delhi.
Imran was speaking at the at the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh where the prime minister has launched a charm offensive targeting potential investors as Pakistan seeks to secure funds amid a yawning balance of payment crisis.
"One thing Pakistan needs more than any other country right now is peace and security," said the prime minister, saying Pakistan had suffered drastically because of terrorism and instability in the decade following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
"One of the reasons why we are at this stage—I'm talking about the two biggest deficits, fiscal and current account deficit—is because of this instability and war, where investment just dried up in Pakistan," he said.
"What we need is stability. Stability means peace with all our neighbours. We have peace with China and Iran, right now our problems are with Afghanistan and India.
"When I won the elections and came to power, the first thing I tried to do was extend a hand of peace to India," the Pakistani premier told the crowd at the investment conference.
"Unfortunately, and I think it is because of the Indian elections coming up, and because sadly anti-Pakistan rhetoric brings in votes, I'm afraid we got no response from Indian. In fact, we got rebuffed by India," he said.
"Now what we are hoping is that we wait until the elections then again we will resume our peace talks with India," he added, referring to upcoming nationwide polls scheduled to take place by mid-May.
Imran said that peace with India was important not just for Pakistan but for India as well.
"All the money that should be diverted to our human resources ends up being diverted into a non-productive arms race."
He said peace with and in Afghanistan was also critical for the country.
“For Pakistan, it is extremely important that we have peace with both the neighbours. And I can tell you that my government will be trying its best," he said, adding that all stakeholders in the country were in agreement on the issue of regional peace.
"In Pakistan, there is a consensus among all stakeholders: what this country right now needs is peace and stability, and only peace and stability will allow us to bring in investment to alleviate poverty and give employment to our young populations," he said.