ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan does not want to take any sides in the US-China ‘cold war’ but instead wants to reduce the growing tensions between the two.
Addressing the Islamabad Conclave 2021 on Thursday, which was themed ‘A Peaceful and Prosperous South Asia’, PM Imran stated that “deteriorating US-China relations, which are heading towards a cold war-like situation, is something Pakistan needs to stop.”
“We should not be in any bloc,” he maintained, recalling the previous Cold War, where joining a bloc was not beneficial for Pakistan.
The premier’s remarks come a day after Islamabad decided to skip the summit on democracy being convened by US President Joe Biden on December 9 and 10.
The Biden administration has invited leaders from over 100 countries. Pakistan was among only four countries from South Asia that were invited to the summit. Others include India, Maldives and Nepal.
China and Russia were excluded from the invitees while Taiwan was extended the invitation, drawing a strong reaction from Beijing.
Addressing the conclave, the PM said that Pakistan played a “big role” in bringing Iran and Saudi Arabia together and wants to reduce the growing tensions between US and China as well. “Pakistan wants to hold talks with America and China as we did during the 1970s,” he stated.
While there has always been competition between countries for trade, Pakistan does not want the current situation to escalate to the level witnessed in the first Cold War, warned the premier.
Talking about the prevalent Afghan crisis, the PM delineated that the situation could have been “much worse had a civil war broken out.” He claimed that Pakistan was “fortunate” that the destruction did not occur on a large scale but reiterated that the destruction Afghans must be saved from was the looming humanitarian crisis due to their “reserves and assets” being frozen.
“We are trying our best to inform the world that in spite of their like or dislike for the Taliban, the primary concern should be the 40 million Afghans, and what they will have to undergo if the current situation persists,” the premier remarked.
Peace in the war-torn country, he emphasised, was important for Pakistan, especially in light of this country’s geo-economics goal. “All central Asian republics wish to have interconnectivity with Pakistan and trade through Gwadar. Peace in Afghanistan is very important for connectivity,” he said.
The premier also highlighted that South Asia was held “hostage” by the Kashmir issue. He claimed that his government “tried very hard” to hold talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi but to no avail.
“I slowly realised that he [Modi] thought our efforts for peace were a sign of weakness,” he said, adding that Islamabad was trying to negotiate with the RSS ideology and not an ‘ordinary’ Indian government. He further said that this ideology was not just the misfortune of Pakistan and Kashmiris, but also of Indian minorities who are excluded by the “Brahmin RSS ideology”.
“Never in human history has such a large chunk of the population been deemed as second-class citizens,” he said, adding that the ideology will create severe repercussions for the Indian society.
The premier maintained that his government was the first to flag climate change when it planned the One Billion Tree Tsunami project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “We knew 20 years ago that this was a threat when no one had perceived it,” he said, adding that Pakistan was one of the top 10 countries which were most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
He further stated that India too was susceptible to climate change, especially as most of their water came from the Himalayan glaciers, which were rapidly melting. “Half our water comes from the Karakoram and Suliman mountain ranges, but the majority of India’s water comes from the Himalayas”.
He reiterated that “our futures” were connected and climate change needed to be combatted together. “But I have not seen seriousness in world leaders because their commercial interests clash with the steps necessary to curb climate change,” he said.
“Pakistan is trying its best to combat climate change and is being appreciated globally. However, regions are connected and develop together,” he said, adding that he prays the Indian government will logically talk to Pakistan in this regard.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the government is committed to implementing long-term reforms in all sectors in order to lead Pakistan to become a regional leader.
During an interactive session with the officers participating in the 115th National Management Course on Thursday, the prime minister pointed out that his government inherited huge fiscal debts due to corruption and malpractices of the previous regimes.
He said despite Covid-19 pandemic, Pakistan managed its economy with success which has been acknowledged by international organisations. He said due to the government’s ease of doing business policy, economic indicators are moving in the positive direction particularly large scale manufacturing, exports and construction sectors.
He emphasised that as decision makers there will always be two choices for them. “One is the easy way of earning money and corruption that leads to destruction and the other is to earn respect and growth which is slow and full of challenges,” he remarked.
Answering a question about extremism and rising number of crimes against women and children, the prime minister said the main objective of establishing Rehmatul Lil Alameen Authority is to raise the moral standards of our society. Khan said using force is not a solution to eliminate extremism rather instilling moral and ethical values in the young generation will create a moderate, tolerant and progressive society.
Discussing the need for a single national curriculum, the prime minister stated that parallel education systems have created class distinctions. He said the government intends to have a core curriculum adopted throughout the country so that the children get a strong base.
The prime minister said that children have access to every kind of material through mobile phones and to an immature mind such content gives way to misconceptions and extremism. “The government will provide our youth an alternative i.e. the teachings of Holy Prophet (PBUH) including respect, dignity, family values, ethics and morality,” he added. – TLTP

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