Not waiting for phone call from Biden, says PM Imran | English News | GulNews


Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a wide-ranging talk with foreign journalists at his residence on Wednesday night, said he was not really “waiting” for a phone call from US President Joe Biden.

“I keep hearing that President Biden hasn’t called me. It’s his business. It’s not like I am waiting for any phone call,” he said in response to a question from a Reuters journalist.

The prime minister’s comments come days after National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf stated that Pakistan has other options if Biden continues to ignore the country’s leadership.

“The president of the United States hasn’t spoken to the prime minister of such an important country who the US itself says is make-or-break in some cases, in some ways, in Afghanistan — we struggle to understand the signal, right?” Yusuf had told The Financial Times in an interview.

“We’ve been told every time that … [the phone call] will happen, it’s technical reasons or whatever. But frankly, people don’t believe it,” he had said. “If a phone call is a concession, if a security relationship is a concession, Pakistan has options,” he had added, refusing to elaborate.

During the interaction with the foreign media, the prime minister talked about the current situation in Afghanistan, its impact on Pakistan, and the withdrawal of US troops from the war-torn country.

“The hasty way in which the Americans left, if they wanted a political settlement then common sense dictates that [you negotiate] from a position of strength,” he said, adding that the US was now blaming Pakistan when they no longer had any leverage.

“I think the Americans have decided that India is a strategic partner. Maybe that’s why Pakistan is being treated differently. Pakistan is just considered to be useful only in the context of settling this mess.”

The premier added that Pakistan’s closeness to China was another reason for the change in the US’ attitude.

Fallout in Pakistan

The prime minister stressed throughout the interaction that Pakistan stood to lose the most from a deterioration in the Afghan situation.

“You ask me whether we are worried? We are [definitely] worried because the direct impact of descending into a prolonged civil war […] the country that will be most affected after Afghanistan will be Pakistan.”

He explained that the Taliban were a Pakhtun-majority group and hence there would be spillover effects in Pakistan’s Pakhtun majority areas.

“It happened in 2003/2004 that our Pakhtun areas reacted to what was happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan lost 70,000 people in that because we supported the Americans.

“So there is a likelihood that we will again have problems in our Pakhtun areas,” the premier explained. He added that close to three million people had also been internally displaced from the tribal areas.

Prime Minister Imran Khan pointed out that Pakistan already housed 3 million registered Afghan refugees with more unaccounted for. “Our economy is just recovering [so] we don’t want another inflow of refugees,” he said.

Any civil war in Afghanistan would also derail Pakistan’s plans for connectivity with Central Asia and geo-economic agenda, throwing them “out the window”, the premier highlighted.

He said a “nightmare scenario” for Pakistan would be a protracted civil war in case the Taliban tried to form an exclusive Afghan government through a military takeover.

The premier explained that Afghanistan was an ethnically diverse population so if the Taliban tried to take over and one ethnic group tried to impose itself over the others, it would lead to “constant unrest and that isn’t what Pakistan wants”.

He reiterated Pakistan would be affected by that unrest.

“We have a larger Pakhtun population here in Pakistan than in Afghanistan and they’re probably the most xenophobic people on earth. They fight each other normally but when it’s an outside [force], they all get together.”

Pakistan’s entry in the US-led war on terror in 2001 led to a “civil war in the tribal areas”, the prime minister said, explaining that as a result, the militant organisations formed to wage Jihad against the Soviet Union turned against Pakistan.

“Hence it’s in Pakistan’s interest that there is a political settlement and all factions come [together to form] a government that represents everyone.”

‘Strategic depth’

Responding to a question on the extent of Pakistani influence over the Taliban, the premier said that even back in 2001, when Pakistan had recognised the Taliban government and was “most influential”, the group had still refused to hand over Osama bin Laden.

“So even then Pakistan’s influence was not all-encompassing.”

He said that anyone who thought Afghanistan could be controlled from outside “doesn’t understand the character of the Afghan people”, adding that the people could not be made “puppets”.

“If I was a Pakistani policymaker in the 90s, I would not have encouraged this idea of strategic depth which was Pakistan’s policy at the time.

“It is very understandable because India, seven times the size of Pakistan, was a hostile eastern neighbour and the Pakistani security setup was always worried about facing hostilities on two fronts so there was always an attempt to have a pro-Pakistan government in Afghanistan,” he said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasised that attempting to influence the Afghan government would not work since the Afghan population would not accept it and any perception of being controlled from outside would lead to a loss of credibility.

“Pakistan should work with any government that is selected by the people of Afghanistan.”

Hence, the PTI government’s policy was to engage with all Afghan factions, hold no favourites and have a readiness to work whichever government comes into power.

Attitude of Afghan govt

Prime Minister Imran Khan said he had tried to persuade the senior Taliban leadership during their visit to Pakistan earlier this year to come to a political settlement but they had refused to talk to President Ashraf Ghani.

He said he had suggested an interim government in 2019 before the Afghanistan presidential election but “the Afghan government was very critical about this remark […] Once President Ghani got elected and the Taliban were excluded, it was always going to be a problem from then onwards since he insisted they talk to him while they didn’t recognise him or the elections”.

“Now the Afghan government is extremely critical about Pakistan [and] they think we have some magical powers that we will make the Taliban do whatever we want [them] to do,” the premier said, adding that the Afghan government didn’t realise that Pakistan’s leverage was “minuscule and diminished” since the American withdrawal.

He said it became extremely difficult to persuade the Taliban once the US gave a date for withdrawal and the Afghan government was now blaming Pakistan for the situation in Afghanistan.

“They somehow think Pakistan has supernatural powers [and that] we are a superpower plus which has such power that the 60,000 to 70,000 Taliban can take on 300,00 Afghan government troops with aircraft and modern weapons and somehow we have the power to make them (Taliban) win.”

The prime minister noted that the Afghan government’s posturing was aimed at bringing the US back into Afghanistan.

“They want the Americans to intervene again but they’ve been here for 20 years so what will they do now which they didn’t do in 20 years?” he questioned.

The prime minister reiterated that Pakistan had made it clear “our soil will not be used [for operations in Afghanistan] so that we again get embroiled in an Afghan civil war” and it did not want military bases in its territory.

“As far as I know after [August] 31, the Americans are going to stop all sorts of [operations], even air attacks in Afghanistan,” he said.




Pakistan has great potential for attracting tourists from Muslim countries: PM Imran | English News | GulNews


Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that Pakistan has “great potential” to attract tourists from Muslim countries because they were wary of visiting Europe and other places due to concerns related to Islamophobia.

He made the comment while addressing local residents and people who were part of the government’s tree plantation campaign at Sonmiani beach in Balochistan’s Lasbela district.

At the outset of his speech, the prime minister said he had seen the area from above during his arrival by helicopter, adding that it could be developed into a tourist spot.

Prime Minister Imran said the government’s efforts should be geared towards improving the lives of the people, to ensure livelihoods for them, education for their children, and health facilities. “It is the foremost responsibility of the government [to see] how we can make the people’s lives better and to first fulfil their basic needs and then [check] how to make them happy.”

Talking about Lasbela, the premier said that an industrial estate could not be established in the area but a “splendid tourist resort” could be built instead. He clarified, however, that it would not be the kind of tourist resort where “people come and then [go against] our culture and tradition and religion.”

Instead, the government would build the kind of resort that would attract a “large number of people from the Muslim world”, he added.

The premier said that there were “many” places in the world that “our people” used to go to spend their holidays, including Europe, but they “face great problems now because of Islamophobia”.

“They don’t want to take their wives and children there. So, a place like Pakistan has great potential where people from Muslim countries will come for tourism.”

Read: Pakistan is uniquely placed to take advantage of religious tourism. What is stopping us?

He added that the federal government would chalk out a plan with Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani to bring consultants to the area and decide how to utilise it in the best way for tourism.

“Tourism has become a science. Some areas have been destroyed because [of lack of proper planning]. So much construction has been done in Murree. The Murree I knew from childhood has completely changed because we did not develop other mountainous areas,” he said.

The PTI government is developing new mountainous areas for tourism for the first time, he added.

Prime Minister Imran also cited the mangrove forests along the Somniani sea coast as the reason for his visit. Talking about the United Nations panel’s report on climate change, which was released a day earlier, he said, “We are very fortunate because we are one of the countries who are far ahead in protecting [ourselves] from climate change.”

He noted that there were fires in several countries including Greece, Turkey and the United States while there were unprecedented floods in other parts of the world. “All this is due to climate change,” he said.

The mangrove forests were the “best” to deal with climate change because they produced the most oxygen and absorbed the most carbon dioxide, he added.

Read: UN sounds ‘deafening’ warning on climate change

‘Have decided to bring Balochistan forward’

Prime Minister Imran pointed out that Balochistan lagged behind other provinces because previous governments did not pay it the attention it deserved. In an apparent reference to former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, he said, “we have rulers who have gone to London’s Harrods more than they have been to Balochistan in a year.”

He added that the PTI government had decided to “bring Balochistan forward” and the kind of money being spent on the province — Rs1 trillion — has “never been spent before”. The government was doing so because “we believe when Balochistan develops, Pakistan develops,” he said.

Read: No other govt has spent as much money on Balochistan as PTI has, says PM Imran

“God has given Balochistan minerals and blessings; we are working on a plan to develop that. This is a big area and more money is needed to develop it. When natural resources are developed, the money will also be spent on your big areas and they will be developed,” he concluded.




PM Imran inaugurates ship lift and transfer system at Karachi Shipyard in rare visit to port city | English News | GulNews


Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday inaugurated the ship lift and transfer system at the Karachi Shipyard during a rare day-long visit to the port city.

The prime minister will later chair a meeting at the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) to review the Rs1.1 trillion Karachi Transformation Plan as well.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony, the prime minister expressed pleasure at the progress in using technology for various tasks. He said it was not just a matter of using technology for its own purposes but also using it to make money.

“Now we will be able to [service] 12 ships and ship lift 7,400 tonnes. This is progress. We have to save the country’s money using technology,” he said, adding that foreign exchange reserves would be saved due to the inaugurated facility being available here now,

The prime minister said that as the new system’s services developed, they could be provided to others as well and used to earn foreign exchange.

He added that the challenge ahead was the increasing pressure on the current account due to increasing economic development and outflow of dollars.

“So we will earn dollars from what you have done today and we will sell these services ahead. We have to do everything to promote our exports, encourage overseas Pakistanis to send remittances through banking channels, attract foreign investment so money comes from abroad and stop money laundering which we are completely focusing on now.”

The premier added that money laundering was the “biggest problem” of the developing world with corrupt rulers transferring money abroad.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said that apart from the above measures, import substitution was needed as well. “This is the direction of our country and we have set out on it,” he said.

The premier lamented that Pakistan had not realised its potential in the past and instead ventured on an “easy path”, becoming an import-led economy that became dependent on foreign aid.

Now, however, he was “happy that the effort is again underway to stand on our own feet”.

Sight on Sindh

The prime minister’s visit to Karachi comes as his government is set to complete its three years in power and, with the next general elections just two years away, political analysts suggesting that the premier has his sight set on Sindh’s vote bank.

An important development in this regard was the appointment of former Sindh chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim as the premier’s special assistant on Sindh affairs in July.

A month prior to his appointment as the prime minister’s aide, Rahim was quoted by The News as saying that the premier had tasked him with organising the PTI in Sindh, and that people would hear “good news” from the province in the coming days.

Moreover, a report had quoted government sources as saying at the time of Rahim’s appointment that Prime Minister Imran planned to hold public gatherings in Sindh starting from August and Rahim’s appointment was seen important in that context.

A day after Rahim’s appointment, Federal Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had shared a plan for the PTI’s campaign in the province, said a Dawn report. The report had further stated that the foreign minister had shared the plan while on a visit to Karachi and that the ruling party intended to campaign “aggressively in every town and district” of Sindh.

The same report had quoted Qureshi as saying: “Is it an anti-democracy act or against the law if the PTI comes to Sindh, meets people and invites them to join the party? Why is there so much hue and cry over this? We are not here to conquer the people but to serve them. We are here to tell the people that they have an alternative.”

More recently, days before today’s visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan had issued directives to cleanse Sindh of street crimes, lawlessness and dacoits with the help of security forces and other agencies working under the federal government.

He had given the instructions while presiding over a high-level meeting on security issues of Sindh and tasked Pakistan Rangers, Anti-Narcotics Force, Federal Investigation Agency and Pakistan Customs to conduct operations against dacoits in different parts of the province.

The premier had issued similar instructions in May, when he had directed Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid to visit Sindh and prepare a strategy to deal with the worsening law and order situation in the province.




Punjab governor, chief minister call on PM Imran Khan | English News | GulNews


ISLAMABAD: Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar held separate meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan during his recent visit to Lahore on Monday, ARY News reported.

During the meeting of PM Imran Khan and Governor Chaudhry Sarwar, the overall situation of Punjab was discussed.

In addition, the governor congratulated Prime Minister on victory in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) elections.


Chaudhry Sarwar apprised PM Khan of the confidence of Pakistanis abroad in the business-friendly policies of the government and said that the Pakistani community abroad would not only participate in the forthcoming Overseas Convention but is also showing great interest to invest in Pakistan.

The governor also paid tribute to the premier for the steps taken by the government for the protection of minorities’ rights and apprised him of the progress made in the ongoing rehabilitation work of the temple at Bhong.

During the meeting between PM Imran Khan and Punjab CM Usman Buzdar, matters pertaining to governance in the province, measures taken for the relief of common man, strategy to curb inflation and hoarding and progress on ongoing development projects were discussed.


CM Buzdar apprised the premier of the steps taken to improve the administrative structure of Punjab government, which PM Khan termed satisfactory.

PM Imran Khan was also briefed on the steps to ensure strict implementation of Covid SOPs during Muharram.

The chief minister also briefed the Prime Minister on the progress of construction and restoration work at the temple in Bhong and strategy to further strengthen the protection of minorities.