Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he believes there may be a better chance of peace talks with India and settle the Kashmir issue if Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party -- the Bharatiya Janata Party -- wins the general elections.
India will go to elections in seven phases beginning from Thursday.
"Perhaps if the BJP wins, some kind of settlement in Kashmir could be reached," Khan told a small group of foreign journalists in an interview.
He said other parties would be afraid of right-wing backlash in case of settlement on the Kashmir issue.
Khan said Kashmir was the central issue between the two countries.
India maintains that the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the country and Pakistan is in illegal occupation of a part of the state's territory.
Tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed killed 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.
Khan has said that Pakistan was taking action against all terrorist groups including the JeM.
Khan said that groups like the JeM were being disarmed under a serious drive to eliminate militancy from Pakistan.
"We have taken the religious schools of these groups under state control. It is first serious effort to disarm the militant outfits,” he said.
Khan said action was taken because it was important for the future of Pakistan. He also rejected the impression that Pakistan was compelled by the world to taken such an action.
A vote for Modi is a vote for Pakistan: Cong on Imran's remarks
The Congress and other opposition parties said on Wednesday that a vote for Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a vote for Pakistan as they seized on Imran Khan's remarks that there may be a better chance of Indo-Pak peace talks and settling of the Kashmir issue if the Bharatiya Janata Party is voted back to power.
In a scathing attack, the Congress also said Pakistani premier Khan's remarks reflect that Pakistan has "officially allied" with Modi.
Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala launched a blistering attack on Modi over Khan's comments.
"Pak has officially allied with Modi! A vote for Modi is a vote for Pakistan!" Surjewala tweeted.
"Modi ji, first there was love for Nawaz Sharif and now Imran Khan is your dear friend," he added in a tweet in Hindi.
The truth is out in the open, Surjewala claimed.
Communist Party of India-Marxist general secretary Sitaram Yechury lashed out at Prime Minister Modi over Khan's remarks, saying now it was known who Pakistan wants as PM.
"Pakistan has been the only issue of Modi's election campaign, where he has scurrilously tried to link it to opposition. Now we know who Pakistan actually wants as PM, the only Indian PM to have invited Inter-Services Intelligence to a military base, and the only one who went to Pakistan uninvited," he said.
"We have serious concerns about foreign governments influencing our democratic election process. Last year, it was reported that ISI wants Modi as PM. Now Pakistani PM says it," Yechury said.
Aam Aadmi Party Convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also seized on Khan's remarks, saying if Modi wins in the general election, crackers will be burst in Pakistan.
"Why does Pakistan want Modi ji to win. Modi ji should tell the country how deep are his relations with Pakistan. All Indians should know that if Modi wins, crackers will be burst in Pakistan.