Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the global community cannot shy away from its responsibilities towards the Afghan people amidst the Afghan crisis, urging the world to engage with Kabul.
In a wide-ranging interview with foreign magazine Newsweek, Khan said that there is a “ray of hope” to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and the region after the devastation of the decades of war, which have crippled the country’s economy, society, and polity. Khan; however, said that if the standoff between Afghanistan and the global community continues, it could cause more suffering and infighting in Afghanistan.
Khan said, “This would create a new flow of refugees, escalate the threat of terrorism from Afghanistan, and destabilize the entire region. The last thing Pakistan wants is more conflict and turbulence in Afghanistan,” reiterated the premier, adding that it is Islamabad’s hope that the country would be “stabilized, through humanitarian help, economic support, and connectivity and infrastructure projects, and that the US, China and Russia will all contribute to pacifying and reconstructing Afghanistan”.
Imran urged the US to cooperate with Pakistan to prevent terrorism emanating from Afghanistan and help stabilise Afghanistan by addressing the humanitarian crisis in the country and supporting the Afghan economy.
The Prime Minister said, “Both Pakistan and the United States need to prevent terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. To this end, we should cooperate to help in stabilizing Afghanistan by addressing the humanitarian crisis in that country and supporting its economic recovery.”
Khan rebuffed the assertion that the chaotic withdrawal of US armed forces will have a long-term negative effect on Washington’s credibility saying, “I don’t think that the US withdrawal will erode US credibility globally in the long term.”
PM Khan said that Pakistan sees no reason why it cannot have a cooperative relationship with both the US and China amidst the brewing US-China rivalry.
Khan said, “Pakistan’s relationship with China is 70 years old. It covers economic, technological, military and other sectors. Throughout this time, Pakistan has simultaneously maintained a close relationship with the United States as well. Indeed, it was Pakistan which first brought the US and China together in 1971.”
Addressing the COVID-19 related concerns over the CPEC projects, Khan allayed the fears saying, “China had already invested around 25 billion dollars under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).”
He said that projects worth 20 billion were under implementation while “projects worth a further 25 billion dollars are in the pipeline”.
Imran rejected the claims that the ‘Build Back Better World’ initiative by the US and G-7 was a rival of China’s BRI project. He said, “It is an initiative which can contribute to building the infrastructure and other projects which are so vital to enable developing countries to achieve their development objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals.”
War on Terror
While Prime Minister Khan commended the joint efforts by the US and Pakistan that successfully decimated al Qaeda from Afghanistan, Khan maintained that the broader War on Terror could not be considered a success.
The Premier said not addressing the root causes of terrorism had resulted in the “proliferation” of the ideology of the terrorist outfits across several regions of the world, including Africa. Khan also connected the narrative around War on Terror to the rise in anti-Muslim sentiments in the world, especially the West.
“We see the strongest manifestation of such Islamophobia in India’s extremist Hindutva ideology, which has unleashed state-sponsored terrorism against the Muslims of occupied Jammu and Kashmir and the 200 million Indian Muslim “minority,” Khan said.
Talking about the close defence ties between India and the US, Prime Minister Khan said that Islamabad sees the development as a strategy to “contain China, including through the so-called Quad”.
Khan said that the Indian jingoism is geared towards regional hegemony and “seventy per cent of all Indian military capabilities are deployed against Pakistan, not China”.
Prime Minister Khan said, “Therefore, Pakistan has legitimate concerns about the provision of the most advanced weapons and technology to India. Apart from increasing the likelihood of a conflict, an arms race in South Asia will divert both India and Pakistan from investing in socio-economic development and the welfare of their people.”
He said that Pakistan has its opinion about the credibility of the Quad strategy before adding that “India will never confront China, especially not to serve US strategic objectives”.