Pakistan's Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar

Terming Kashmir the core issue does not mean that we want a war all the time with India, says Kakar

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has said that without resolving the core issue of Kashmir, relations with India could not become normal. Speaking in Geo News programme Jirga hosted by Saleem Safi, the interim PM, in his first exclusive interview, stressed the need for a peaceful solution to the Kashmir issue as per the UN resolutions, warning that it would be a matter of concern not only for India and Pakistan but also the entire world if peace was denied a chance in South Asia.

The interim premier said that Pakistan does not want to go for a war with India. “Terming Kashmir the core issue does not mean that we want a war all the time with India,” PM Kakar said, adding that New Delhi’s traditional and historical relationship with Islamabad had not been friendly.

The relationship between the two neighbouring nuclear countries further deteriorated after Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government rushed through a presidential decree to abolish Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which grants a special status to Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) on August 5, 2019.

Regarding the restoration of ties with India, Premier Kakar said the decision to this effect should be made by Indian polity and consciousness, and the world will find Pakistan as a responsible partner.

Responding to a question, Premier Kakar termed the May 9 violence “an attempted coup and civil war, the target of which was the serving army chief and his team in the military”.

He condemned the riots that ensued following the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan in May this year. “The vandalism and arson on May 9 were witnessed by the whole world and international newspapers reported the tragedy. This kind of manipulation is not acceptable in any form of government.”

He said the government does not want to create an impression that revenge was being taken against the accused of May 9 violence.

However, he added, if legal action is not taken against those who violated the country’s laws and resorted to violence, then “we will be seen as a party to the matter”.

The interim premier added that no political party had the right to throw stones at others, abuse them and burn buildings.

Speaking about the new role that he has been chosen to perform, PM Kakar said: “I had no idea that I would ever sit on the prime minister’s chair.”

He also shared his views on Islamabad’s policy regarding the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other banned outfits.

“The state has both tools, negotiation and force, to deal with the TTP or any banned organisation,” he said, clarifying the government’s upfront policy against terrorism.

Commenting on relations between India and Pakistan and the role of trade in this regard, the caretaker prime minister said the final decision on bilateral trade has to be taken by Indian politicians.

To another query, the caretaker premier said the world was expecting that the situation in Afghanistan would improve with the emergence of the new government “but unfortunately, it worsened”.

He said the arms, ammunition and other military equipment left behind by the US forces after withdrawing from the war-torn country was creating problems.

“The effects of the abandoned US military equipment in Afghanistan have started for us,” he said, adding that the entire region would see its impact. “The abandoned US military equipment is an issue for the entire region.”

He added that the militants’ subversive activities have risen. The weapons left behind by NATO were used in attacks in Pakistan. “We want to see a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.”

Responding to a query, Premier Kakar clarified that he was not willing to stay in the office longer than the time-frame set by the Constitution.

He went on to say that deciding the date for general elections in the country was the prerogative of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The interim PM also said that his government would comply with whatever the decision is made by the Supreme Court on the upcoming polls.