Exclusive interview: Modi’s closeness with Nawaz was one of issues in Pakistan polls, says PTI leader Qureshi
Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi, Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who is contesting from two seats in Sind for National Assembly, is of the view that the Narendra Modi administration in India is negative in a sense that it is not holding composite dialogue with Pakistan. A member of the National Assembly of Pakistan from 2002 to May 2018, Qureshi previously served as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan from 2008 to 2011. In an exclusive interview with Newsroompost, the PTI leader Qureship says that terrorism is not specific to India or Pakistan, but it is a common challenge. As Pakistan went to polls today, Qureshi claimed that there is a swing in favour of PTI. He spoke on a wide range of issues in this interview. Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Newsroompost: How is your party PTI going to perform in Pakistan elections?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: I am visiting different polling stations in different constituencies and I am getting feedback from different areas. I am also contesting two National Assembly seats in Sind. Everywhere there is very positive trend for PTI. There is an absolute swing in favour of our party. People are voting for change. People have rejected PMLN in a convincing way. There has been a clear swing in favour of PTI.
Newsroompost: Do you suggest that you are going to get two thirds majority in the elections?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: I can’t make a prediction like that. But I can say that on the whole atmosphere looks very positive for Imran Khan led Pakistan Terjeek e Insaf (PTI). Voting is very smooth. Turnout will be good.
Newsroompost: But it is not all that smooth. A massive blast took in Queta killing several people. What do you have to say?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: Unfortunately yes. Blast did happen there. There were casualties. Very tragic incident in Queta. We are fighting terrorism. We have pushed them out. But there are certain miscreants who take advantage of situation to terrorize people.
Newsroompost: What are the issues on the basis of which you are seeking votes from people of Pakistan?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: Governance is one of the major issues. PPP and PMLN performed very badly on governance and corruption. PPP and PMLN are accused of bad governance and corrupt practices. Issue was economic. All economic indicators are on the decline. We have historic deficit. Inflation is on the rise once again. Petroleum prices are rising. Energy bills are going up. Farmers are very unhappy. They are not getting right price for their produce. Cotton production has gone down. Metro buses, underground trains, basic things have been ignored. We need water, jobs, security, health, law and order and education. All these issues are our focus.
Newsroompost: There were reports that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s name was also used in the election. Was this also an issue?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: Yes some talk of connections of Nawaz Sharif with Narendra Modi. Some talk of closeness between both on a political level was there during elections. But it was not a significant issue in the elections.
Newsroompost: But during one of his campaigns PTI Chairman Imran Khan said that Modi’s aggresive posture is responsible for Indo-Pak stalemate. What’s your reaction?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: The Modi adminitation has been very negative in the sense that they are not ready to set dialogues on outstanding issues. They have shied away from bilateral dialogues. Their statements have been very aggressive. There is a feeling that miscreants have been used on Afghan border to create problem for Pakistan. We feel that terrorism is a collective challenge we should all cooperate to deal with that. Obviously deteriorating situation in India occupied Kashmir has been our concern. That is of significant concern in Pakistan.
Newsroompost: But stand of Narendra Modi is very clear that for resumption of bilateral dialogues cross border terrorism must be stopped. What do you have to say about this?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: On terrorism everybody is on the same page. It is a common enemy which should be fought and defeated collectively. It is not an issue specific to Pakistan or India. It is a global challenge and it has to be fought and dealt with globally and regionally.
Newsroompost: Was Kashmir also an election issue in Pakistan?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: Siuation in Kashmir is worrisome. Several lives have been lost in last few months due to ceasefire violations. Kashmir is being discussed and talked about in the elections.
Newsroompost: If your party forms the government, what would be your policy vis-a-vis India?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: India is our neighbour. We recognised the fact we are trafically connected. We have common source of water. Our agricultural economy is linked as we share common source of water. We recognise the fact that there are outstanding issues which can be resolved through peaceful means. But the fact that India has been reluctant in going ahead with composite dialogue has been reasons for stalemate.
Newsroompost: Mumbai terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed is contesting elections in Pakistan. USA and India have registered their protest over that. What is your reaction?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: All kind of extremist elements are everywhere. There are extremist parties and elements are also in India like RSS and likes of that. But we have to look at the mainstream. In the mainstream we are having polls today you will see how marginalised they will be. People will not vote for these fundamentalists.
Newsroompost: You are showing concern against terrorism. But did you ever protest Hafiz Saeed fighting elections in Pakistan?
Shah Mahmood Qureshi: There are rules for eligibility to contest elections. One has to qualify a number of conditions and fufill rules to contest elections. Anyone who fulfills that must contest an anyone who does not qualify cannot contest.