Saturday, February 4, 2023
HomeIndiaGovernanceUnion minister R.K. Singh calls Pakistan polls ‘rigged’, Imran Khan ‘military-backed’

Union minister R.K. Singh calls Pakistan polls ‘rigged’, Imran Khan ‘military-backed’

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In apparently the first comment by an Indian leader on Pakistan poll results, Singh says he doesn’t expect any change in the countries’ troubled ties.

New Delhi: Pakistan’s general elections were “rigged” and former cricketer Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, which has emerged as the single largest in Wednesday’s vote, was backed by the country’s powerful military from the start, Union minister R.K. Singh has said.

He also said he was not confident of any improvement in India-Pakistan ties under Khan.

“(The) military is supporting him from the start, it’s not new. Imran Khan has always been a military candidate. It’s not us, but people of Pakistan who are saying so,” news wire ANI tweeted Singh as saying, in what is apparently the first comment by a senior Indian leader on the poll results across the border.

“It was rigged. Observers have said it was rigged. Military was there on the polling booths (sic). You ensured that Nawaz Sharif and his daughter land in jail and don’t get to campaign. You ensured disturbances in Bilawal Bhutto’s meetings,” Singh was quoted as saying.

“I don’t see any change because as far as India is concerned, the important matters like export of terrorism by them are not going to change. Military used to decide this policy & they’ll do it now as well,” Singh said, referring to relations between the nuclear-armed rivals.

There has been no official comment yet by the Indian ministry of external affairs on the election results, which are still trickling in.

Singh, a former IAS officer, is minister of state with independent charge of the ministry of power and new and renewable energy.

Singh’s comments came hours after Khan’s PTI emerged as the single largest party, which has won or is leading on 119 seats of the 270 that went to the polls, 17 short of a simple majority of 136.

Khan addressed the public and said he was keen on improving ties with India.

“If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but we at least need a start,” he said.

Khan said Kashmir is the “core” issue between the two countries and it should be resolved through talks.

“I am a person who arguably knows the most people in India because of my days in cricket. We can resolve the poverty crisis in South East Asia. The biggest problem is Kashmir,” he said, suggesting that the two sides should come to table to resolve it.

“We want to improve our relations with India, if their leadership also wants it. This blame game that whatever goes wrong in Pakistan’s Balochistan is because of India and vice-versa brings us back to square one,” he said.

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