In a wide-ranging interview with the “Middle East Eye”, Khan spoke on the current situation in Afghanistan, Kashmir, relations with the US, and allegations against China regarding the treatment of Uighurs.
On Afghanistan, the PM warned of the consequences if the international community failed to engage with the Taliban. “There must be hardliners within the group and it can easily go back to the Taliban of 20 years ago. And that would be a disaster,” he warned, adding that failure to do so would once again push the country into chaos. “It would become a fertile ground for terrorists like ISIS, which is a worry for all countries in the region,” he said.
The US, Khan suggested, has to “pull itself together” from the shock it had suffered after the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan. “I don’t think they have found their feet as yet,” he said. He also derided the US policy of conducting drone attacks in its efforts to fight terrorism, calling it the “most insane” method.
When asked whether he would allow US bases in Pakistan for action against ISIS, the PM said: “I think they don’t need a base here because we don’t want to be a part of conflict again.”
About the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), he said Islamabad has been trying to speak to elements within the TTP who can be reconciled “because it’s from a position of strength”.
He pointed out that the Afghan Taliban had assured Islamabad that they would not let Afghanistan’s soil be used against any country. He alleged that the previous Afghan government had facilitated Indian agencies in carrying out terrorist attacks on Pakistan.
On his silence about the treatment of Uighurs in China, PM Khan said he considered “selective pronouncements on human rights” to be immoral. He said Pakistan had spoken to China about the Uighur issue and had been provided with an explanation. “Our relationship with China is such that we have an understanding between us. We will talk to each other, but behind closed doors because that is their nature and culture.”
He soon changed the topic by asking the two interviewers why there was no criticism of alleged Indian actions in Kashmir or its treatment of Muslims and minorities. “Let the world take notice of that first, then we will talk about other violations of human rights.” Khan said India had also drawn on Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of the Palestinian territories and the impunity the country has enjoyed as a consequence of its alliance with the US, in its own quashing of opposition and criticism of its actions in Kashmir.
When asked how volatile the current situation with India was, Khan replied: “If you look at the flash-points, probably the nuclear flashpoint right now in the world is Pakistan-India because nowhere else is there a situation where there are two nuclear-armed countries who have had three wars before they were nuclear-armed.”
“We have not had a war since then because of the deterrent,” he said. Still, he admitted that dealing with the flareup in 2019 in the early months of his premiership had been a nervous and dangerous time: “Once two nuclear-armed countries get into the situation like we did, it can go anywhere,” he added.
When Khan was asked to speak his mind on the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB’s) decision to pull out of the Pakistan tour, he said: “I think that there is still this feeling in England that they do a great favour to play countries like Pakistan.” “One of the reasons is that, obviously, the money,” he added.
The Pakistan PM said that the BCCI is the richest cricket board in the world, adding that no other country would dare to do to India what England had done to Pakistan. “Money is a big player now for the players, as well as for the cricket boards. The money lies in India, so basically India controls world cricket now. I mean they do, whatever they say goes. No one would dare do that to India because they know that the sums involved, India can sort of produce much more money,” he added.