“We want recognition of the Taliban government to be a collective process”. PM Khan Kashmir is a region over which Pakistan and India have been disputing since 1947.

*Prime Minister Imran Khan’s interview to Le Figaro, France* Imran Khan:
“We want recognition of the Taliban government to be a collective process”

ISLAMABAD ( Web News )

Keen to warm up relations with Paris, the Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan, gave an interview to Le Figaro.
Question: How would you like to develop relations with France in the coming months?
Imran Khan: France is a very important country for Pakistan. Almost half of our exports go to the European Union, of which France is one of the most significant members. It is also a trading partner. My priority is to turn the economy around so that our country can stand on its own two feet and take care of its 220 million people. Covid hindered travel, and we have had to stick to video conference meetings. Ideally, I would like to meet President Macron to discuss our bilateral ties.
Question: Pakistan has not had an ambassador in Paris since 2020…
Imran Khan: I think we are in the process of addressing this.
Question: Do you have plans to make an official visit to Paris?
Imran Khan: Not in the immediate future. With President Macron, we have spoken twice on the phone in the past and, of course, I want to come to France.
Question: Pakistan supported the Afghan Taliban after the fall of their regime in 2001. Why has your government not recognised their theocracy since they took Kabul last August?

Imran Khan: We want this recognition to be a collective effort by the countries in the region. If Pakistan is the first to grant recognition, the international pressure will become too much for us as we try to turn our economy around. When my government came to power (in 2018, editor’s note), the country was financially bankrupt. We could no longer pay our debts. We can only recover if we have good relations with the international community. To be isolated by becoming the only state (to recognise the Taliban regime) would be the last thing we would want.
As for the conditions for such recognition, there is an international consensus that there must be an inclusive government in Afghanistan. There is also the issue of human rights and women’s rights. The Taliban government has made promises on these two issues. What more is needed to make the world satisfied? That is the question.
Question: Universities and schools are still closed to women in Afghanistan. When the Taliban Foreign Minister came to Islamabad in December, did you talk to him about this? Did he give any concrete answers?
Imran Khan: There were no concrete answers. They gave an agreement in principle. How will they implement it? Anyone who knows the Afghan soul knows that they are proud people. You can’t 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. But they do agree that girls should be educated. They say they need time.
Question: The Pakistani Taliban Movement, which has bases in eastern Afghanistan, has been carrying out attacks in Pakistan for several months. Do you fear the consequences of the Afghan Taliban return to power regarding your national security?
Imran Khan: We have two concerns. The first is the refugees. If the humanitarian crisis worsens, we will have an influx of refugees, while more than 240,000 have already fled their country after the fall of Kabul. We do not have the resources to accept more refugees.

Secondly, before the fall of the former regime, there were already three organisations operating from Afghanistan: the Pakistani Taliban, the Baloch terrorists, and the Islamic State group. 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.
Question: Do you trust the Afghan Taliban when they say they will not let jihadists strike from their territory?
Imran Khan: Yes, the Taliban were able to restore security when they took over in the 1990s and Pakistani transporters were able to operate freely at that time. It is in their interest that regional trade develops from Central Asia through their territory to the Indian Ocean.
Question: The UN Security Council report on counterterrorism released on February 3 pointed to continuing links between the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda…
Imran Khan: If terrorists operate from Afghan soil, the Taliban will suffer. It is in their interest to stop international terrorism.
Question: Would you be willing to participate in Joe Biden’s “over-the-horizon” counter-terrorism strategy of striking jihadists in Afghanistan from bases in the region? Would you allow US military aircraft to fly over your territory?
Imran Khan: We do not want international terrorism to operate from Afghanistan, but this can only be done with the help of the Taliban government. We have already lost 80,000 lives (in the war against terrorism) after 2001, and we do not want a conflict with the Afghan government. We will be partners with the US in peace, not in war.
Question: Pakistan disputes India’s sovereignty over Kashmir. In 2019, New Delhi ended the autonomy of this region and the peace process has been frozen ever since. How can the dialogue be restarted?

Imran Khan: This unilateral decision goes against UN Security Council Resolution 47. The attitude of the BJP government and the RSS (a right-wing Hindu fundamentalist group) towards Pakistan and Kashmir is worrisome. 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.
Question: What do you propose to do about it?
Imran Khan: 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.
Question: And if India refuses, there will be no negotiations? Not even informal talks?

Imran Khan: Talking 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.
Question: Your government keeps warning about the use of torture and human rights violations in Indian Kashmir. But it remains silent on the repression of Xinjiang Muslims in China. Doesn’t this contradiction undermine the credibility of your position?
Imran Khan: Xinjiang is part of China. Kashmir is a region over which Pakistan and India have been disputing since 1947. It is natural that we should raise our voice in defence of the Kashmiris, especially as one third of the territory is in Pakistan. Kashmir is directly a matter of concern for Pakistan.