This is significant because some in India had sought to cast aspersions on Imran Khan, who is expected to form the new government, calling him a puppet of the Pakistan army and even suggesting that the army might have rigged the elections in his favour.
“India desires a prosperous and progressive Pakistan at peace with its neighbours,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.
“We hope that the new Government of Pakistan will work constructively to build a safe, stable, secure and developed South Asia free of terror and violence,” he added.
Khan had reached out to India in his victory speech saying that Pakistan was prepared to walk the extra distance for peace with India. This was immediately followed by Pakistan High Commissioner to India Sohail Mahmood telling TOI in an exclusive interaction that Khan’s victory was a moment of opportunity which the 2 countries needed to seize. Mahmood had also said this was the time to shun old narratives in bilateral ties.
While India remains unsure about Pakistan Army’s intentions and also what stand Khan’s government might take on the issue of terrorism, which is India’s own core concern, official sources here said that there was no denying that Khan’s PTI emerged as the single largest party through a genuine democratic process.
“Our job is not to take sides. We will respect the verdict of the Pakistani people and it’s a fact that Imran Khan has found support from a vast majority,” said a source.
India’s reaction though, sources said, was only limited to the election process. “We have to wait and see the process of government formation as well. He is still not the PM as he lacks majority. And what he says after he officially becomes PM will be more important,” said an official, adding that for any forward movement Pakistan will have to seriously address India’s concerns.
Indian authorities are still analysing Khan’s comments on India in his speech and there are some concerns here over the manner in which he mentioned the alleged human rights violations in JnK, apart from raising the Kashmir dispute of course. “We have to wait and see if he will speak the language of the army only,” said an official.
Pakistan authorities expressed satisfaction over India’s response. They have repeatedly pointed to India’s former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi’s comments that he found elections in Pakistan free, fair and transparent. The Indian mission in Islamabad also found no reason to report back that the elections were rigged.
Mahmood had told TOI Friday that, despite what the nay-sayers had to say, the elections took place in a timely manner, as scheduled.
“Despite several terrorist attacks in the run-up to the elections, the political parties and the candidates waged a full, focused and spirited campaign. The people of Pakistan responded with equal courage and enthusiasm. This is a reflection of their unflinching commitment to democracy and to the democratic process,’’ said Mahmood.
It is of significance for Pakistan that these elections were the third consecutive general elections since 2008 and that another elected government, as Mahmood said, had completed its constitutionally-mandated term in May 2018.
Now, we are poised to make another peaceful transition to another elected government,’’ he added.
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