Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that if Pakistan recognises the Taliban-led government, the international community’s pressure on Islamabad would be “too much” to bear.

“If Pakistan was the first to grant recognition of Taliban, the international pressure would become too much for us as we try to turn our economy around,” he said in an interview with French daily Le Figaro.

“To be isolated by becoming the only state (to recognise the Taliban regime) would be the last thing we would want,” the prime minister said, noting that Pakistan wanted the recognition of the Taliban government as a “collective process”.

He said Afghans were proud people who could not be forced to act in a certain way.

“You cannot force them. There is a limit to what foreign pressure can do to a government like the Taliban […] Afghans should not be expected to respect women’s rights as Westerners understand them,” he said.

However, the premier said the Taliban had agreed on girls’ education but needed time.

HUMANITARIAN CRISIS: The premier expressed concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Afghanistan, the possible reflux of refugees, and the US administration’s decision to free only half of the Afghan funds on the United States soil.

He mentioned that before the fall of the former regime, three organisations were operating from Afghanistan — the Pakistani Taliban, the Baloch terrorists, and a group of Daesh.

“We believe that the more stable the Afghan government is, the less these groups can operate. That is why we are so concerned about the stability of Afghanistan,” he said.

Asked if Pakistan trusted the Afghan Taliban when they claim they would not let extremists strike from their territory, he said: “Yes, the Taliban were able to restore security when they took over in the 1990s”.

He emphasised if terrorists operated from Afghan soil, the Taliban would suffer. “It is in their interest to stop international terrorism,” he added.

The prime minister also played down joining hands with US President Joe Biden to strike extremists in Afghanistan from bases in the region.

“We do not want international terrorism to operate from Afghanistan, but this can only be done with the help of the Taliban government,” the premier noted.

He mentioned that Pakistan had already lost 80,000 lives in the war against terrorism after 2001 and did not want a conflict with the Afghan government. “We will be partners with the US in peace, not in war.”

RELATIONS WITH INDIA: Apart from Afghanistan, the prime minister talked about Pakistan’s other neighbour, India, and said the possibility of ending the current stalemate with New Delhi was subject to the restoration of Kashmir’s autonomy.

“Talking with India would be a betrayal of the Kashmiri people who have suffered so much and who live in an open-air prison environment with 800,000 troops deployed in the region,” he said.

PM Imran said India’s unilateral decision of August 5, 2019, was in violation of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 47.

“It is possible to build a relationship with India, but this requires the restoration of Kashmir’s autonomy. They have violated international law with this abrogation,” he said.

KASHMIR: The prime minister said the attitude of the BJP government and the RSS towards Pakistan and Kashmir was “worrisome”, which had led to a “dead end”.

“We are dealing with a government that is not rational, whose ideology is based on hatred of religious minorities and Pakistan. We can’t talk to them. We are at a dead end.” he said.

He said Kashmir remained a disputed area between Pakistan and India since 1947 and pointed out that it was natural to raise a voice in defence of the Kashmiris, especially as one-third of the territory was in Pakistan.

“Kashmir is directly a matter of concern for Pakistan,” he said.


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