India, region needs a strong leader for peace: Imran

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan Saturday said that the government elected to power in India next year should have strong leaders who are capable of taking decisions.

Speaking at an event organised by the All India Management Association, Khan said that if Nelson Mandela could get rid of hatred between blacks and whites in South Africa, differences between Indians and Pakistanis were only skin deep. "The problem here is leadership".

However, asked about Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit that he attended on Saturday, Khan evaded a direct reply. "Who gets elected in India is not a business of Pakistan. It is a business of the people of India... We need strong leaders, visionary leaders. War is not an option in solving any issue," the former cricketer said.

Pointing out that the BJP had once gone a long way in improving ties with Pakistan, he said: "We had concerns with a BJP government but when they came to power in India for the first time, they were the ones who reached out to us."

Khan proposed that India and Pakistan operate a civil nuclear plant along the border. He hoped that India and Pakistan would have a future like the European Union, with people moving freely between the two countries.

According to Khan, the prospects for peace had never been brighter. "The youth of India and Pakistan want peace. All we need is strong leadership that can withstand pressure from vested interests."

Khan admitted that though Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif may try to improve ties with India, he would not be able to move "fast" due to pressure from fanatics.

According to him, the level of fanaticism in Pakistan was at its peak. "But in the next six months, after the exit of the US from Afghanistan, this fanaticism will start subsiding. Once that happens, we can move towards concentrating on normalising our relations."

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