Kashmir dispute a serious threat to peace in region, beyond: PM

General Official News

Islamabad, September 24, 2019 (PPI-OT): Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said with the two nuclear armed countries – Pakistan and India – facing each other, the United Nations and international community should play their due role in resolution of Kashmir dispute, which poses serious threat to peace in the region and beyond.

“Two nuclear armed countries are facing each other … and as prime minister, I am saying that anything can happen in such a situation,” he said while speaking to a gathering of former US diplomats, analysts, intellectuals and media here at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a prestigious US think-tank.
The prime minister mentioned the Indian government’s August 5 action of revoking Article 370 of their constitution, which eliminated the special status of the Indian-held Kashmir (IHK), as well as the complete lockdown and communication blockade of eight million Kashmiri people by 900,000 troops in the valley for the last 50 days and said that the international community should at least ask India to lift the curfew.

During the course of his talk at CFR, Imran Khan spoke at length on various subjects ranging from Pakistan’s foreign policy and its relations with various countries, including the United State, China, Afghanistan, Iran and India, as well as the situation in region.

Giving a brief account of Pak-India relations since he came to power 13 months back, the prime minister told the audience how he tried to engage Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for moving forward with mutually beneficial ties in diverse areas, including trade to retrieve the two countries facing common challenges, especially poverty. Even before the Pulwama incident for which the Indian government immediately blamed Pakistan, he said, New Delhi continued to shy away from holding any bilateral talks due to domestic politics.

The prime minister mentioned the downing of two Indian fighter jets by Pakistan in retaliation to the unprovoked Indian bombing of Balakot area after the Pulwama incident and said Pakistan also handed back the captured pilot to India as a peace gesture. He said the Indian government is following the racist agenda of Hindu dominance led by RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh), adding it is the same philosophy which assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.

To a question, the prime minister said having a cricketing career he has lived and loved India more than that of any other Pakistani, but viewed that the present India is not heading in the right direction. “It is not the India of Gandhi,” he said, and added that the RSS philosophy is based on the creation of an exclusive Hindu state.

The prime minister said with Pakistan and India having nuclear weapons, he is really worried about the situation in region and that he on the sidelines of UN General Assembly, will talk to various world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on the issue of Kashmir vis-a-vis Pak-India relations.

Prime Minister Imran Khan referred to the economic challenges, particularly the current account deficit, inherited by his government and highly lauded the support of China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which boosted the country’s foreign exchange reserves and helped address the issue of current account deficit.

He mentioned the enhanced Pak-China cooperation in diverse areas of economy, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), relocation of Chinese industries in Pakistan and the increased access of Pakistani goods to the Chinese market through Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) as great opportunities for Pakistan’s economic development. The prime minister said his government’s efforts are aimed at restructuring the economy and growth as export oriented.

To a question, Imran Khan said Pakistan and China have special relations and the latter did never intervene in the former’s foreign policy matters. He said what he really admires is that China has steered its 700 million people out of poverty during the last 30 years. He was also appreciative of China’s anti-corruption policies and mentioned that some 450 ministerial level people were put in jails there on corruption charges.

Imran Khan also spoke about his concept of turning Pakistan into a Madina-type welfare state, where all were treated equally. To a question, he said the constitution in Pakistan assured equal rights to all in the country, including minorities and other weaker segments and that his government is putting in more efforts for the implementation of relevant laws.

Responding to a question, the prime minister defended the seeking of a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address the issue of huge current account deficit. Numerating his government’s efforts to fix the fiscal deficit, he said his government inherited the biggest current account deficit in the history of Pakistan. The first year of his government was based upon a struggle to fix this deficit which had now been narrowed down by almost 70 per cent, he said. “The economy is heading in the right direction. We are restructuring the economy and trying to create an export-based economy,” he said.

Terming suspension of Afghan peace process as unfortunate, the prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s consistent stance that there is no military solution to the war-weary Afghanistan. He said right from 2008, when President Obama had not assumed his office, he has been reminding the senior officials in the US administration that there is no military solution to the Afghan issue due to its history and past experiences. “The Soviet killed one million Afghans and the British tried thrice as is evident from the history, but no one succeeded,” he said. “Previously, no one understood Afghanistan and the US officials had no clue about what was going on in that country. This madness continued for long time. The US did not succeed in Afghanistan due to its long history till fortunately President Trump did well by forcing his aides to hold negotiations,” he said.

The prime minister expressed his optimism that soon the peace process would restart. “If the US has not succeeded in the last 19 years, how can it succeed in the next nineteen years because the military is no solution to this complex issue,” he said. “Things have changed since 2001, you have crossed the river once. Taliban have changed as they have realized that they cannot control all Afghanistan and the Afghanistan government has also concluded that peace deal can be brokered through a political settlement,” he said. “You have the two choices either to fight or have a political settlement.

The latter choice is the only way to bring about peace, though it is tough and not easy one,” he emphasized. The prime minister said he believes that Taliban are more accommodating now. “They wanted to meet me, but I could not as the Afghan government did not want it to happen,” he said, adding that he also told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that he can try to convince them to talk to the Afghan government. The prime minister said Pakistan has been fencing the long border with Afghanistan which is known as Durand Line. He said Pakistan is still hosting about 2.7 million of Afghan refugees.

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