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September 24, 2019

Wish I could end corruption, poverty the Chinese way: China model for progress, says Imran

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September 24, 2019

NEW YORK: Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday said he was an ardent admirer of the Chinese model against poverty and if he had it, he could get millions of Pakistanis out of poverty.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations before his meeting with the US President Donald Trump later Monday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Imran said, “If I had, but I don’t have unfortunately, the Chinese model. If I could order people around and I could get, I could get people out of poverty. The way they’ve tackled corruption, unfortunately I can’t do that in Pakistan. Four hundred and fifty ministerial level people in the last five years have been put into jail on corruption. I wish I could do that in my country, but I have limitations.”

“The most — what I admire about China the most, in thirty years they have taken seven hundred million people out of poverty. It’s never been down in human history. And when I came my main — if you asked me the one thing I wanted for Pakistan? Lift a hundred million Pakistanis out of poverty. This is our main thing. So that’s where we have learned a lot from restart talks with the Taliban, saying there ultimately had to be a political settlement.

“I am meeting with President Trump later on and I will tell that, look, there´s not going to be a military solution,” he said.

“For 19 years if you have not been able to succeed, you´re not going to be able to succeed in another 19 years,” Khan said, adding that Pakistan’s decision to join the US-led war on terror was the biggest mistake in history.

He said right from 2008 when President Obama had not assumed his office, he had been reminding the senior officials in the US administration that there was no military solution to the Afghan issue due to its history and past experiences.

“The Soviet killed one million Afghans and the British tried thrice as was evident from the history, but no one succeeded there,” he added.

Previously, he said, no one understood Afghanistan and the US officials had no clue about what was going on in that country. This madness continued for a long time.

“The US did not succeed in Afghanistan due to its long history till fortunately President Trump did well by forcing his aides to hold negotiations.”

“You have the two choices either to fight or have a political settlement. The latter choice is the only way to bring about peace, though it is tough and not easy one,” he emphasised.

He said Afghans wanted durable peace, as they had suffered badly in the last 40 years, where people had been dying due to bomb blasts.

Khan admitted that Trump´s snapping off diplomacy caught him off-guard.“We read it in the paper. It should have at least been discussed with us,” he said.

Khan discounted the possibility that the Taliban would topple the internationally recognized government in Kabul without the US troops.“I don´t think the Taliban will be able to control the whole country. I think there will be a settlement,” he said.

“I honestly believe that this is not the Taliban of 2001. There are lot of things that happened and I believe they will be more accommodating,” he said.

“The Taliban wanted to meet me, but I could not, as the Afghan government did not want it happen,” he said, adding that he also told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that he could try to convince them to talk to the Afghan government.

He said in 1980s, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan along with the United States organized resistance to the Soviets by training people who were invited from all over the Muslim world to do jihad against the Soviets.

“Then, of course, fighting the Soviets, jihad was glorified. And I never forget when Ronald Reagan invited the mujahedeen leaders to Washington and he said they reminded him, and I quote, “the moral equivalence of the Founding Fathers of the United States.” So jihad was — you know, jihadis were heroes then.

Come 1989, Soviets leave Afghanistan. The United States packs up and leaves Pakistan with a lot of those who would have reminded Ronald Reagan of the moral equivalence of Founding Fathers, and we were left with these groups. And then comes 9/11 and Pakistan again joined the US in the war on terror. And now we are required to go after these groups as terrorists who were indoctrinated that fighting foreign occupation was jihad. But now, when the US arrived in Afghanistan, it was supposed to be terrorism. So Pakistan took a real battering in this.

I opposed this from day one. I said we had first trained these guys to fight jihad and it was a great idea, and now we are telling the same groups it is terrorism. So we should at least have stayed neutral. Pakistan, by joining the US after 9/11, committed one of the biggest blunders. Seventy thousand Pakistanis died in this. We had some say over a hundred and fifty billion, say two hundred billion — some economists, Pakistanis — two hundred billion lost to the economy. And on top of it, we were blamed for the US not winning in Afghanistan. I thought it was the worst period for Pakistan.”

Khan also said he would make a new pitch to Trump to mediate on the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).The prime minister said Pakistan had been fencing the long border with Afghanistan which was known as Durand Line.

He said Pakistan was still hosting about 2.7 million of Afghan refugees.Regarding the ongoing situation in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, the prime minister said the entire international community should ask India to lift curfew in the valley.

He said the IOK had been under strict restrictions for the last 50 days after unilateral abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution through a rushed presidential decree on August 5

He said India was violating international laws in occupied Kashmir, adding that how could Pakistan hold talks with New Delhi in such environment.

“The Indian government has made hostage eight million Kashmiris by clamping the worst curfew there,” he said.Imran said the ruling party in India was pursuing the agenda of racist Hindu supremacy of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The prime minister said soon after coming into power he extended a hand of cooperation to India for resolution of all issues but his offer was not well responded to by New Delhi.

He said Pakistan and India had common issues like poverty and climate change, which need to be addressed together.

He said the Indian nefarious designs had become apparent due to its efforts to have Pakistan blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Talking about economy, he said the previous governments had failed to find a solution to the economic woes of the country, adding that owing to persistent issues the PTI current government had to rely on the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Imran said China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates helped Pakistan, particularly its economy, in taxing times.

He said when his party came into power, the economy was in dire straits and China was the first country to help. He said the government approached the IMF due to current account deficit.

Talking about the Chinese model to tackle poverty, Imran said he admired this model the most.

“In thirty years, they have taken seven hundred million people out of poverty. It’s never been down in human history. And when I came my main was to lift one hundred million Pakistanis out of poverty. This is our main thing. So that’s where we have learned a lot from how they tackled poverty in these last thirty years.

The prime minister said Pakistan wanted peace with all its neighbors and it was simply because of this desire that it opened the Kartarpur Corridor. This, he said, would have had security implications but the [Pakistani] security forces did not resist. Our policy with Afghanistan, which we reached out immediately to Afghanistan, to President Ghani. I have invited him to Pakistan. We speak regularly if there’s any issue. Every policy of my government, which was peace with our neighbours, has been backed by the Pakistan army.

“The foreign ministers of Pakistan and India were supposed to meet last year in the UNGA but it was suddenly cancelled. And then we thought maybe they don’t want to get closer because of the Indian elections, because it’s a nationalist — BJP is a nationalist party. One of their agenda of course is that they’re hard on Pakistan. So we stayed back. Then Pulwama happened and Pakistan was immediately blamed. Their jets came and they bombed us. We retaliated, but there was no loss of life. But on the way two of their jets went down … one in Pakistan. We captured the pilot and immediately gave him back. This shows Pakistan does not want escalation.”

“There is only one Islam and there’s no such thing as moderate Islam or radical Islam. The Islam we follow is the Islam of Prophet Mohammed (SAW),” he said.