ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday dismissed the “suspicion” of Western countries about the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar port and said the projects were a great opportunity for regional development.
“The suspicion about CPEC and Gwadar makes no sense…We invite other countries to join as well,” he said in an interview with Dr. Eric Li, Director of the Advisory Committee of China Institute of Fudan University.
Imran Khan said the projects would prove beneficial not only for Pakistan and China but for the entire region.
He said his top priority was the uplift of 220 million people of Pakistan, adding that these projects in this regard would help in poverty alleviation and wealth creation.
Asked about the accusations of the United States and Europe on the genocide of Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang province, Khan said the reports received from Pakistan’s envoy in China after his visit to the province were “completely different”.
Ambassador Moin ul Haq was especially asked to go and have a look to find out what was actually going on in Xinjiang, he said.
“The report he [envoy] gave to us was completely different that is coming out [about Uyghurs] on the western media. According to him, the emphasis on development in Xinjiang is ‘unprecedented’,” he said.
He said the envoy, however, did mention a certain security issue because of the terror attacks by ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement).
On ties with China, he said the all-weather friendship between the two countries withstood the test of time.
For 70 years, he said, the relations with China had been consistent regardless of the government in power.
To a question on balancing ties with the U.S. and China, he said Pakistan would like to replicate the role it had played in bringing closer the two rival blocs in 70s.
When sought comments on the situation after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, he said Americans did not learned from the history of Afghans and the situation could lead to a humanitarian crisis.
“When you have no clear aims why you invaded a country, it is going to be a failure. Anyone who thinks of controlling the Afghan people, has not read their history,” he said.
He said the whole mission of the U.S. in Afghanistan was “based on a false premise”. After 40 years, in an attempt to punish the Taliban government, a huge humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Afghanistan, he added. “If Afghanistan descends into chaos because of the sanctions, as its 75 percent economy depends on foreign aid, this will be the biggest manmade human disaster,” he said.
On relations with India, he said normalizing ties with the neighbouring country was the priority of his government after assuming power.
However, he said that the Kashmir dispute remained a big issue between the two countries.
He mentioned the “terrible situation” of human rights in India where the minorities suffered immensely. “The Indian government thinks that the country belongs to Hindus, who continue to marginalize other minorities. A great tragedy is happening in India and I hope that better sense prevails to avert any damage,” he said.
Pakistan may replicate 1970s role
Talking about China-US relations, the prime minister said the world does want another cold war. He said Pakistan may replicate the role it played in 1970 when it brought China and the US together.
PM Imran Khan stressed Pakistan did not want part in any conflict, rather than getting caught up in any new rival blocks, as it did in the past.
He said joining the “war on terror” and the corruption of the past rulers badly affected Pakistan. PM Imran Khan highlighted that the country lost about 80,000 people and over $100 billion in the war.
When asked about the Western concerns on the situation in the Chinese province Xinjiang, the prime minister said Pakistan’s ambassador in China visited the area and the report he gave back was different from the one that is coming from the western media.
He said what is being told by the western media “does not exist against Uighurs”. He said according to the envoy’s report, unprecedented development is taking place in Xinjiang.