NEW DELHI: There is currently “no relationship” between India and Pakistan and talks between the two countries can be held only if New Delhi restores the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday.

The Kashmir issue is the “main difference” between the two countries and Pakistan’s security concerns increased after India’s decision to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019, Khan said in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro.

“There is no relationship right now, and at the moment...there is just a stalemate,” Khan said, according to a video of the interview posted on YouTube. He added there had “no relationship” since India’s move to scrap the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Khan said restoring the special status of Jammu and Kashmir is the only condition he has for talks with India. ““Yes, go back to August 5, 2019, and yes, we can talk after that,” he said.

“We can build a relationship with India but it has to start from them going back to that step they took on August 5, 2019. They have to...restore the status of Kashmir because that’s a violation of international law,” he added.

To negotiate with India at this juncture would amount to a “betrayal of the people of Kashmir”, who had been given a guarantee by the world community that they would be allowed to decide their own destiny through a plebiscite, Khan said. “There’s no way we can move forward until they restore that status [of Kashmir],” he added.

There was no immediate response from Indian officials to Khan’s remarks.

India and Pakistan have not held any comprehensive or structured dialogue since the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which were carried out by the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT). Though top leaders of the two sides have met since then, they were unable to make any breakthrough.

Following months of secret back channel contacts between Indian and Pakistani security officials, the two sides restored the 2003 ceasefire on the Line of Control (LoC) in February last year.

Khan said the Indian government’s policies on Pakistan and Kashmir had resulted in a “lot of anxiety in our part of the world, that we are not dealing with a rational government”. He contended Pakistan is dealing with a government “whose ideology is based on hate towards Muslims, towards minorities, specifically towards Pakistan and it’s not a rational government where we can talk to them”.

Imran Khan repeated his earlier statements that he knows “India better than most Pakistanis”, and that he extended a hand of friendship to Prime Minister Narendra Modi shortly after coming to power in 2018 in order to have neighbourly relations. He said he was “surprised by the response from the Indian prime minister”.

Khan again claimed the Pulwama attack of February 14, 2019 was carried out by “a young Kashmiri boy”. He said the attack led to hostilities between the two sides, during which an Indian jet was shot down. He added that Pakistan had returned the pilot from the down aircraft to tell India that “we didn’t want any escalation”.

India has said the Pulwama attack was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), another Pakistan-based terror group.