Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took a dim view of Pakistan Premier Imran Khan's remark that a win for Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha elections will revive hopes for Indo-Pak peace, saying he should instead ensure that terrorism is wiped out completely from his country.
Mr Singh also said that India would extend all help to Pakistan in fighting terrorism if it shows sincerity in eradicating the menace emanating from its soil.
Asked during an interview to PTI on Sunday whether the recent statement by Mr Khan that it would be good for peace between India and Pakistan if BJP and PM Modi returned to power showed he was a fan of the Indian premier, Mr Singh said, "Only he (Khan) can reply to that".
After a brief pause, Mr Singh smilingly said if Mr Khan was so serious of wanting PM Modi to return to power and normalize relations with India then he should first announce that terrorism would neither be nurtured nor allowed to thrive in Pakistan and take effective steps to stamp put terrorism.
"Pakistan should announce that terrorism will be wiped out completely from their country and if need be help of India can be taken. If such a statement comes from Pakistan, we will believe that Imran Khan is really a PM Modi fan and wishes to normalise relations with India," he said.
To a question whether India would be willing to help Pakistan, Mr Singh said, "India will wholeheartedly support such a step".
A day before the first phase of polling for Lok Sabha elections on April 10, Khan met with a group of foreign journalists for an interaction in Islamabad during which he expressed the hope that India-Pakistan peace had a "better chance under PM Modi"
The BJP veteran also accused Congress of diluting India's stand on terrorism emanating from Pakistan.
"In 2004, (Gen Pervez) Musharraf had agreed for a statement that Pakistan's soil will not be used for terrorism. A year later, during Congress rule a statement was made by New Delhi that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism as India...this was a blunder."
He also defended PM Modi's decision to invite the then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his swearing-in ceremony in May 2014 and also for making an unscheduled visit to his home in Lahore Pakistan.
"We wanted to experiment but things did not work the way we wanted."
Asked whether an invitation will again be extended to the Pakistani premier if the NDA retains power, Mr Singh said, "It's too early to say who will be called and who will be kept away."
On Balakot air strike in February this year, Mr Singh said the Congress should have refrained from repeatedly questioning the government about the number of terrorists killed in the attack.
However, Mr Singh side-stepped a reply to a pointed question that the figure of 300 terrorists being killed was first stated by BJP chief Amit Shah.
But he hastened to add, "Now see even a foreign journalist has said that nearly 170 were killed."
Mr Singh was apparently referring to a claim by an Italian journalist earlier this month that the Balakot air strike killed 130-170 Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists.
Asked for clarity on the number of deaths since several weeks have now passed after the air strike, he said, "I will only say that it was an intelligence-based successful anti-terror operation which has been unheard of in the history of the nation."