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India-Pakistan peace talks must go on, says Imran Khan.

DAVOS -- Cricket legend-turned-politician Imran Khan has said the Indo-Pak peace process must continue at all costs, and should not be derailed by skirmishes.

"The peace process has always been a one step forward, two steps backward process. What has happened (the LOC violations) is unfortunate but talks must continue uninterrupted. The peace dividend will be enormous. If the EU can be open, why can't India and Pakistan freely trade with each other," said Pakistan's former cricket captain and possibly its next PM, on the sidelines of the WEF meeting.

Khan said India-Pakistan talks were always hampered by vested interests. "What is required is strong, credible leadership with a public mandate, which the Pakistan government doesn't have. In India, unfortunately, the leadership comes under public pressure from the right," he said.

Khan said if he became the PM, he would begin a broad-based dialogue with India on all issues including Kashmir. "The solution to Kashmir should be found while talking across the table. Pakistan should ensure there is no infiltration, while India should agree to withdraw troops gradually. Armies should not remain in civilian areas," he said.

Elections in Pakistan are likely to happen in May, after a caretaker government takes over in March, and Khan said he was more confident than ever that his Tehreek-e-Insaf Party would win the polls. "There are 40 million young people in Pakistan who will vote for the first time. They will vote against status quo," he said. His party does not have any seat in Parliament as it had boycotted the last polls.

Khan said he would also focus on fixing the governance system of his country and dealing with the terrorist problem. He called for normalisation of cricket ties between the two countries. "India has used Mumbai to punish cricket. Instead of the recent ODI series, why didn't we have a proper three test match series," he said.
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Publication:The Frontier Star (Northwest Frontier Province, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Jan 27, 2013
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