We only want peace, not to become part of any confrontation: PM Imran

By: AFP      Published: 09:44 PM, 21 Jun, 2021
We only want peace, not to become part of any confrontation: PM Imran

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan only wants peace and don't want to be part of any confrontation and urged the United States should first establish a political settlement before leaving Afghanistan.

In an interview with HBO Axios that went air on Sunday, he said that Pakistan has suffered the most due to the war against terrorism.

"Over 70,000 Pakistanis embraced martyrdom due to US-Afghan war. We have given sacrifices more than anybody else in this war."

PM Imran Khan said, "We only want peace and don't want to be part of any confrontation."

“Before leaving Afghanistan, the US must find a political solution," he said.

He noted that his country is currently hosting three million Afghan refugees.

The comments from the Pakistani premier came amid the commencement of the withdrawal of foreign troops, which will be completed by September, while the peace process is facing hurdles due to disputes among the Afghan leaders.

Earlier, an excerpt of the interview was out in which PM Khan categorically refused to give any kind of bases to the United States.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the CIA will “absolutely not” be allowed to operate from Pakistani soil after the US completes its withdrawal from Afghanistan later this year.

The US’ loss is not for want of trying: CIA Director William Burns and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin have both visited Pakistan in recent months to discuss continued cooperation. However, the Pakistani government, long close to the Taliban, against whom the US would most likely be operating, has rebuffed all attempts as a compromise.

Despite an uneasy relationship with Pakistan, the US has conducted hundreds of drone strikes and cross-border counterterrorism operations from Pakistani soil.

But Imran Khan was unequivocal: Pakistan will not allow the CIA or US special forces to base themselves inside his country ever again, he told Axios.

Kashmiris are ignored in the West

Lashing out at the West's indifference towards the plight of the Kashmiris, the premier said India has turned Kashmir into an open prison by deploying hundreds of troops there.

"The Kashmiris are ignored in the West. Why is this issue not taken up there. I think this is hypocrisy," he said.

He said some nine million people are living in an open jail in Held Kashmir.

Responding to a question, the prime minister stated that the country's nuclear programme is only for self-defence. "I am against nuclear weapons, but our nuclear arsenal is for defence purposes," he said.

PM Imran Khan highlighted that Islamophobia has increased in Europe after 9/11 and urged international efforts to counter this dangerous trend.

He said that in a Muslim society, the concept of Hijab for women is to prevent "evil". "There is a big difference between our culture and that of the West."

The prime minister lavished praise on China, saying the country has supported Pakistan whenever needed. When asked to comment on the Uyghur issue, he said Pakistan and China discuss issues behind closed doors.

The premier also shared how a partial lockdown coupled with comprehensive data analysis helped Pakistan keep the COVID-19 pandemic under control.

He said there were more than 70% informal economy workers and daily wagers and the government could not make a decision to force a complete clampdown in the country.

“75% of our workers are in the informal economy. … You cannot lock down hungry people.”

He said the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) performed actively and coordinated with all institutions to implement SOPs.