South Asia is a hot-spot, can flare up at any time, warns Imran

Says Pakistan expects even-handed treatment from US for Kashmir resolution

By: News Desk      Published: 01:16 PM, 31 Oct, 2020
South Asia is a hot-spot, can flare up at any time, warns Imran

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan expects from the United States an “even-handed treatment with respect to India”, especially on the Kashmir dispute.

“The region is a hot-spot, it could flare up at any time. That’s why we expect the US, as the strongest country in the world, to be even-handed, whoever becomes president,” the prime minister said in an interview with Der Spiegel’s Susanne Koelbl in Islamabad on Friday.

On the upcoming US election and prospects of winning, the Prime Minister said though Joe Biden was in front in the opinion polls, but Donald Trump was very unpredictable because unlike normal politicians, “he plays by his own rules”.

Asked with whom he would prefer to work with, Imran Khan said, “What we really want from the US is an even-handed treatment with respect to India, especially with the dispute in Kashmir.”

Khan said being a politician in Pakistan who formed his own party the biggest in over 22 years, he also had to do a lot of out-of-the-box-thinking including relying on social media and then attracting the youth to rallies.

He said the US thinks India will contain China, which is a “completely flawed premise”.

“India is a threat to its neighbours, to China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and to us. It has the most extremist, racist government on the subcontinent. It is a fascist state, inspired by the Nazis in the 1920s and ’30s,” he said.

Imran Khan said Indian Narendra Modi´s party openly admired Hitler, adding that the “Nazis wanted to get rid of the Jews, while the RSS wanted to rid India of the Muslims”.

To a question if Washington had forced Pakistan into a misguided war in neighbouring Afghanistan, he said “Pakistan had nothing to do with the terror attacks on 9/11 as Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan.”

“After 9/11, we should not have allowed our army to become involved in the war. I opposed it from day one. The US put pressure on us, and the military dictator Pervez Musharraf succumbed to that pressure,” he said and added from day one his government had been fostering dialogue to resume peace in Afghanistan.

He mentioned that Pakistan lost 70,000 people in this conflict, and the tribal areas adjacent to the Afghan border were devastated in the last 15 years.

He said Pakistan had no “favourites” in Afghanistan and added that “Our only interest is that the future government in Kabul does not allow India to operate from there against Pakistan.”

To a question if new law would make it impossible for journalists to report on the army, he said there will be another way of dealing with the security forces – not through the media, but through the government. “I will speak to the army chief if I think there’s something wrong….But this should not be done in public. When soldiers are risking their lives, you cannot demoralize them in public,” he said.

On Pakistan’s successful strategy during coronavirus pandemic, he said with smart lockdown, the government did not stop the agriculture sector and quickly reopened the construction sector, because that’s what employed the most people in the urban areas.

India and Iran, he said, restricted people to their homes in poor areas with complete lockdown imposed. He said around 180,000 to 200,000 people in the country were getting tested every week and mentioned that the national coordination team had a very clear composite picture of the epidemic.

From peak numbers in June, he said, the country saw a steady decline in cases, positivity and deaths across the country until late August and expressed hope to survive the second wave.

On Pakistan’s offer for mediation on Middle East situation, he said soon after assuming power, he had offered Saudi Arabia and Iran to mediate in Yemen. “But you can´t force anybody to agree on peace talks if they don´t want to,” he said.

On United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan having established relations with Israel, he said every country had its own foreign policy, however said “unless there’s a just settlement, we cannot recognize Israel”.

The Prime Minister said countries did not become poor because of a lack of resources, but due to corruption among the leadership.

“As we know from the Panama Papers, the same is true for Pakistani politicians. Millions of dollars went into properties in the most expensive areas in London, siphoned off from this country,” he said. “They want to blackmail me into getting them off the corruption cases. But there’s no way I will ever relent,” he said.

Asked if he took advice from his wife Bushra Bibi on political issues, he said, “She has great wisdom. I discuss everything with her, also problems I face in government, dealing with complex situations.”

“She is my soulmate. She is my companion. I would not have survived without her,” he said.