Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in “reverse gear” on matters of peace in the region and “hardline elements” in India are threatening the “secular principles” of India, visiting Pakistan parliamentarian and chairman of the foreign affairs standing committee Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari said on Friday.
“I have not met him and neither have I had the opportunity to meet him. But what I can see is that Modi is in reverse gear on matters of peace in the region,” the former Pakistan minister for information technology said here, referring to the cancellation of foreign secretary-level talks.
“What I can see during this visit is that for the first time, the hardline elements here are threatening the secular principles of this country,” he said, referring to the recent reports of religious conversions.
Leghari, who is leading a delegation of 12 members of Pakistan’s parliament across the political spectrum, said, “Our visit to India is to impress upon the Indian political class that there is consensus in Pakistan about having good relations with India. There is appetite for better relations… but it is not the oxygen for Pakistan. Pakistan can survive with better relations with other countries in the region.”
Son of former Pakistan president Farooq Leghari, the Pakistan MP, who belongs to Nawaz Sharif’s PML(N), when asked about a recent public meeting held by Jamaat-ud-Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed in Lahore, said, “There were about 100,000 people in that place… it was the Punjab government’s job to ensure their safety. The police and security personnel were there for protection of those people.”
“If Hafiz Saeed spews venom, similarly a lot of Indian extremists have also spewed venom. We should ignore them,” the Pakistan MP said.
Asked about Saeed roaming freely in Pakistan despite being accused of the Mumbai terror attack, Leghari said, “Pakistan’s courts have not found any evidence against him. And Pakistan’s Supreme Court and High Court are much more efficient than Indian courts… The Indian courts have given a judgment after 45 years about their own railway minister.”
The Pakistan MPs, who belong to four different political parties, met 26 Indian MPs on Friday — three from the BJP, 12 from Congress and 11 from other parties — and had a “brutally frank” discussion, after which they came out with a joint statement calling for the resumption of the dialogue process.
This was the sixth Pakistan-India Parliamentarians Dialogue organised by the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), an Islamabad-based think-tank.