Islamabad: Pakistan PM Imran Khan frequently referred to India during his two-day visit to Sri Lanka, projecting himself as someone who had always advocated dialogue as the way forward for the two neighbours even as New Delhi took two steps back.
Addressing the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Conference in Colombo last week, Khan said one of his first tasks after assuming office was to "explain" to PM Narendra Modi the need to resolve all differences through dialogue for the sake of peace and prosperity in the subcontinent.
"I didn’t succeed, but I am optimistic that eventually common sense will prevail. The only way the subcontinent can tackle poverty is by improving trade relations. Let us live like civilised neighbours, just as the Europeans live," he said.
"Germany and France have fought multiple times, but today it is unthinkable for them to have a conflict because they are so interlinked due to trade. Similarly, my dream for the subcontinent is that we resolve our differences," he said, adding that the Kashmir issue was the only reason for conflict in the region.
Apprehensions about Khan raking up the Kashmir issue had reportedly led Colombo to cancel his planned address to the Sri Lankan parliament. Some within the Sri Lankan government fear that allowing Khan to speak to parliamentarians against Delhi's policies of Delhi could harm the island country’s ties with India.