PM Imran Khan warns of a civil war in Afghanistan if US leaves without settlement

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned the world of the possibility of a civil war in Afghanistan if foreign troops leave the war-torn country without a political settlement.

The prime minister said this while talking to American journalist Jonathan Swan for an HBO Axios interview.

PM Imran Khan repeated the country’s stance on giving bases to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for action in Afghanistan, saying Pakistan will “absolutely not” give military bases, adding that Pakistan has suffered the most due to the war against terrorism.

“Over 70,000 Pakistanis embraced martyrdom due to the US-Afghan war. We have given sacrifices more than anybody else in this war.” He noted that his country is currently hosting three million Afghan refugees.

The premier 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 stressed.

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.

Nuclear arsenal for defence

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.

Rising Islamophobia

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

Regrets indifference towards Kashmiris’ plight

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 by the West. Why is this issue not taken up there? I think this is hypocrisy,” he said.

‘China helped Pakistan’

The prime minister lavished praise on China, saying the country has supported Pakistan whenever needed.

When asked to comment on the Uighur issue, he said Pakistan and China discuss issues behind closed doors.

How did Pakistan control COVID-19?

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-wage earners and the government could not make a decision to force a complete clampdown in the country.

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

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