Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he wants a TV debate with Indian counterpart Narendra Modi.
“I would love to debate with Narendra Modi on TV,” Khan told Russia Today in an interview, adding that it would be beneficial for the billion people in the subcontinent if differences could be resolved through debate.
The nuclear-powered rivals have shared antagonistic relations since gaining independence 75 years ago and have fought three wars with each other.
Meanwhile, Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on commerce, has backed the resumption of trade with India, which was suspended by Islamabad in August 2019 after New Delhi revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.
Trade with India is the need of the hour and beneficial to both countries, Dawood said at a media interaction on Sunday, Dawn News reported.
“As far as the ministry of commerce is concerned, its position is to do trade with India. And my stance is that we should do trade with India and it should be opened now,” said Dawood, who also serves as the Prime Minister’s Adviser on Textile, Industry, Production, and Investment.
“Trade with India is very beneficial to all, especially Pakistan. And I support it,” he added, according to the Dawn News report.
Reiterating his views Khan said Pakistan’s regional trading options were already limited, with Iran, its southwestern neighbour, under US sanctions and Afghanistan, to the west, involved in decades of war.
Pakistan shares strong economic ties with its northern neighbour, China, which has committed billions of dollars for infrastructure and other projects under its Belt and Road Initiative.
Khan’s interview came on the eve of a visit to Moscow, where he will meet President Vladimir Putin, the first visit by a Pakistani leader to Russia in two decades.
The two-day visit for talks on economic cooperation was planned before the current crisis over Ukraine.
“This doesn’t concern us, we have a bilateral relation with Russia and we really want to strength it,” Khan said of the Ukraine crisis.
In March, 2021, Pakistan’s Economic Coordination Committee had lifted a ban on the import of sugar and cotton from India. However, the decision was withdrawn quickly as it emerged that the major move was taken by Pakistan’s Finance Ministry without taking all stakeholders on board, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
India’s move to revoke the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 outraged Pakistan, which downgraded diplomatic ties and expelled the Indian High Commissioner in Islamabad.
Pakistan also snapped all air and land links with India and suspended trade and railway services.
India has said that it desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan in an environment free of terror, hostility, and violence. India has said the onus is on Pakistan to create an environment free of terror and hostility.
India has also told Pakistan that “talks and terror” cannot go together and has asked Islamabad to take demonstrable steps against terror groups responsible for launching various attacks on India.
(With inputs from agencies)