Imran Khan speaks during the intervie with Jonathan Swan at the PM House in Islamabad.
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that once the Kashmir issue is resolved, there will no longer be any need for nuclear deterrents.
Imran also said that Pakistan only wants peace and don't want to be part of any confrontation and urged the US should first establish a political settlement before leaving Afghanistan.
In an interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios on HBO aired on Monday, the prime minister said that Pakistan has suffered the most due to the war against terrorism.
"Intelligence analysts say Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal anywhere in the world. Why?" Swan questioned.
"I don't know where they've come up with this. Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is simply a deterrent, to protect ourselves," he said, adding that he was "not sure" whether it was growing. "As far as I know, it's not an offensive thing. Any country which has a neighbour seven times its size would be worried."
Imran said that he was "completely against nuclear arms." "I always have been. We've had three wars against India and ever since we have had a nuclear deterrent, there has been no war between the two countries. We've had border skirmishes but we've never faced war. The moment there is a settlement on Kashmir, the two neighbours would live as civilised people. We will not need to have nuclear deterrents."
Asked whether he was "happy" about the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, the premier said: "Happy in one way because there was never gonna be a military solution in Afghanistan."
Imran said that there were also feelings of anxiousness. "Without a political settlement there is the possibility of a civil war."
He stated that in his view, a political settlement would mean a coalition government between the Taliban and the Afghan leadership. "There is no other solution."
Asked whether the US had made a mistake by announcing the date of the withdrawal, the prime minister said: "They have got themselves in such a big mess. They had to give some sort of timeframe, but the moment they gave a timeframe the Taliban would have considered that a victory."
He said that as far as Pakistan is concerned, it would deal with whoever represented the people of Afghanistan.
"Does it not concern you that this group of people (Taliban) is accumulating power right next to you?" asked Swan.
"Look, I'm not a spokesman for the Taliban. For me to say what they (should) be doing, shouldn't be doing is pointless. In case the Taliban go for an all out victory, there is going to be an incredible amount of bloodshed and the country that will suffer the most after Afghanistan, is going to be Pakistan," he said, adding that Pakistan was housing three million Afghan refugees. There must be a political settlement before the Americans leave,” the prime minister said.
About the recent visit of CIA Director William Burns, Imran said that since 9/11 the intelligence agencies of the two countries have been in "constant touch." However, he denied meeting the CIA chief.
"Would you allow the American government to have the CIA here in Pakistan to conduct cross-border counterterrorism missions against Al Qaeda, Daesh or the Taliban?” asked Swan.
"Absolutely not. There is no way we are going to allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not,” the prime minister said.
"Pakistan suffered 70,000 casualties, more than any other country by joining the American war. We cannot afford anymore military actions from our territory. We will be partners in peace, not in conflict."
Asked whether Pakistan would allow the US Air Force to use its airspace for air strikes against the Taliban, the premier reiterated that Pakistan "would not be a part of any conflict."
When asked for an answer, Imran replied that it had not been discussed. "Why would the Americans bomb Afghanistan when it hasn't worked for 20 years?"
Asked whether he had spoken to US President Joe Biden since the Democrat assumed office, he simply said: "No I haven't."
"Is there a reason for that?" the interviewer asked. "Whenever he has time he can speak to me. At the moment, clearly, he has other priorities," the premier replied.
When he asked what he would discuss with Biden, he said that the US had a big responsibility when it came to occupied Kashmir. "If the Americans have the resolve and the will, the Kashmir issue can be sorted out."
As per a statement issued by the Prime Minister Office, the decision has been "taken in view of the regional security environment.” Bajwa's tenure was due to end in November but analysts have long predicted the extension.
Imran's comments come a day after Pakistan accused India of using illegal cluster bombs, killing two civilians and wounding 11, in the disputed Kashmir region. India denied it had used such weapons.
Interacting with the public via telephone on Sunday, the prime minister said Pakistan has come out of economic crisis against the expectations of the opposition and it will now move forward on the economic front.
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