U.S. ‘resolve & will’ can settle Kashmir dispute: PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks to Jonathan Swan of 'Axios on HBO' in Islamabad.

ISLAMABAD, June 21 (APP): Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the Kashmir dispute, which holds hostage the 1.4 billion people of South Asia, could be settled if the United States showed a ‘resolve and will’.

“This festering [dispute] can ease if the U.S. has the resolve and will. This can be sorted ]out,” the prime minister said in an interview with Jonathan Swan of ‘Axios on HBO’ aired on Monday.

The ‘Kashmir dispute’ was put on top agenda by the prime minister as the interviewer asked him about the priorities of discussion when he meets U.S. President Joe Biden in the future.

“Almost 1.4 billion people in the sub-continent are held hostage with one dispute of Kashmir”

“Almost 1.4 billion people in the sub-continent are held hostage with one dispute of Kashmir,” he said, adding that the United States had a big responsibility in this regard being a powerful nation of the world.

He said the Kashmir dispute needed a settlement as per the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council that called for a plebiscite to let the Kashmiris decide about their own future.

The prime minister pointed that the West was ignoring the genocide in Kashmir with hundreds and thousands of Kashmiris killed by the Indian troops.

 

“This is such a big issue in the western world as why are the people of Kashmir ignored,” he said, adding that the Kashmir issue was “much more relevant” where 800,000 Indian troops had put the nine million Kashmiris in ‘open prison’.

“Why is this not an issue? This is hypocrisy,” he said, referring to the apathy of the West towards the plight of Kashmiri people facing the humanitarian crisis for decades.

Asked about Pakistan’s “growing nuclear capability”, he said Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was “simply for its own defence” in the scenario of a country seven times of its size.

He expressed the belief that the resolution of the Kashmir issue would lead the two countries towards peace.

“The moment there is a settlement on Kashmir, I believe Pakistan and India will live as civilized neighbours without nuclear deterrence,” he said.

The prime minister emphatically reiterated that there would be no talks with India unless it takes back its illegal and unilateral steps of August 5, 2019 on Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in conversation with Jonathan Swan of ‘Axios on HBO’.

He recounted the steps taken to normalize ties with India after coming into power. The prime minister said that they did not realize, at first, that Narendra Modi’s party was inspired by RSS policies which idealized Nazis and looked up to Hitler as their ideal.

On the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, he stressed that there must be a prior “political settlement” as the military solution was not the viable option.

He hinted at the possibility of a civil war if the U.S. troops pulled out without a political settlement, which he explained as the “coalition government with Taliban and others as stakeholders”.

Asked if Pakistan would like to welcome Taliban into the comity of nations, he said, “As far as Pakistan is concerned, whoever is representing the people of Afghanistan, we would deal with them”.

Prime Minister Imran Khan categorically said that Pakistan would “absolutely not” allow any bases and use of its territory for any sort of action inside Afghanistan.

“Absolutely Not. There is no way we are going to allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not,” he said, in response to the question if he would allow the American government to have CIA conduct counter-terrorism missions in Pakistan against Al-Qaeda ISIS or the Taliban.

 

“We will be partners in peace, not in conflict,” he said. Pakistan, he said, could not afford any more military actions from its soil as it was the country that suffered most after Afghanistan.

To a question, if Pakistan would allow the U.S. to use its air space for strikes, he said “such an approach of the U.S. [of airstrikes] did not work for 20 years. Why would it work again?”

On Islamophobia, the prime minister termed a “big communication gap” between the Islamic world and western societies as the main reason.

He said after 9/11, the term ‘Islamic terrorism’ was coined that misguided people in the West who started believing that Islam led to terrorism.

He pointed that with the involvement of a few Muslims in terrorist activities, the entire 1.3 billion Muslim community became the target.

To a question, the prime minister said his foremost priorities were; alleviation of poverty, making the country a welfare state and bringing the powerful under the rule of law.

Prime minister Khan said in his opinion, rule of law, was very important as a country would remain poor if did not have a rule of law.

He referred to a fact-finding report under the office of UN secretary-general which had identified a flight of capital from the developing countries worth 1 trillion dollars every year to the western capitals.

He said it was happening because lack of rule of law in the poor and developing countries, adding two families in Pakistan had ruled for decades and took billions of dollars outside the country.

The prime minister opined that such corrupt practices impacted the currency, devaluing it and thus resulted in increased poverty.

On “doing vastly better than the United States” on COVID-19, the prime minister said partial lockdown coupled with comprehensive data analysis helped his government keep the pandemic in control.

The smart lockdown was the “best decision” to cope with the situation, he added.

About the successful lockdown policy of the government, the prime minister said that clamping down a complete lockdown would have impacted the economy. “Pakistan had already dire economic situation,” but the government’s smart lockdown policy saved the economy, he added.

“A balanced approach actually saved us and Pakistan managed to save its economy and people’s lives,” he added.

The prime minister said in India, prime minister Modi imposed complete curfew which worsened the situation there compounding miseries of the poor people.

Imran Khan recalled that with people in Spain and Italy ending up in hospitals as COVID-19 raged through Europe, there was a big temptation by the politicians from the Opposition for a total lockdown. However, he said, he opted for smart lockdown given the problems of the poor.

He mentioned that an effective working of the Command and Control Centre with daily data monitoring and input by provinces, army, doctors and health specialists helped the government handle the situation.

To another query, the prime minister said all the stakeholders in the society have to play their part in raising awareness about the sex crimes in society.

He said the contents available on social media and on mobile phones had impacted the minds of children.

Every society had different culture and when you introduced new things, it would have impacts, he added.

The prime minister also stressed upon collective global efforts to tackle the issue of global warming and climate change.

He said Pakistan was doing more than its share in these efforts by allocating maximum resources to help fight the climate change.