Imran Khan speaks to VRT News's Steven Decraene

The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has given a wide-ranging interview to Steven Decraene of VRT News. On Pakistan’s often troubled relationship with India he pulled no punches, but is more upbeat about the prospects of peace in Afghanistan.

Quizzed about the tensions between India and Pakistan over Kashmir Mr Khan said: “I feel that if there was a strong and clear-headed leadership in India, this problem would be solved. Every problem has a solution. The problem in India right now is that they have an extremist ideology. The RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) is an extremist ideology, inspired by the Nazis in the thirties and the founding fathers of RSS which are ruling India now, were inspired by Hitler and this racist Arian philosophy of Hitler and they backed the Holocaust of the Jews because they believe in the ethnic cleansing of Muslims from India. So it is extremist ideology and unfortunately it has taken over India. And that’s why they have put these 8 million Kashmiris, who are Muslims, in an open prison. So I do not see much hope with this government, but I do see that in future, a new government in India, a strong leadership, would help this issue to be resolved and as I said every problem has a solution.”

With regard to peace talks in Afghanistan the Pakistani Prime Minister added.

“Since my government has come in, we have left no stone unturned so there would be peace in Afghanistan. And fortunately things are moving in the right direction. It’s not going to be easy, because there has been 19 years of conflict, but it is for the first time moving in the right direction. The Americans are wanting peace and dialogue with the Taliban and the Taliban are sitting with the Americans. The next phase would be cease-fire, then possibly an agreement if the ceasefire goes well, then an agreement.  And then I guess the next phase would be the Taliban sitting with the Afghan government.”

On the security situation in his own country Mr Khan noted:

“By joining the US war, we ended up with (extremist) groups turning against Pakistan. That’s when we entered a period of terrorism and suicide attacks. 70,000 Pakistanis lost their lives in that 10 to 12 year period. And fortunately, and thanks to our army and especially to our intelligence agencies, who gave great sacrifices, they now have controlled the insurgency and I am happy to say that in my first year as Prime Minister, 2019 was the safest year in Pakistan since 9/11.”

Imran Khan is upbeat about investment opportunities in his country thanks to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, but also believes there is room for the Europeans:

“Of course, you see, CPec just gives an opportunity to connect with China. But it’s not exclusive, China does also want this to become an investment hub for companies from all over the world, especially in Europe.”

Climate change and global warming is also an issue in Pakistan:

“Now we have set ourselves targets since I have become Prime Minister of 10 billion trees in Pakistan. And it’s really to improve our environment, to improve our forest cover, bring back wildlife, but Pakistan is also likely to be affected by climate change, more than other countries, because this country depends on our rivers. And our rivers, 80 percent of the water of our rivers, comes from the glaciers in the mountains and because of global warming these glaciers are melting at a fast rate and that is a big worry for us.”

Being a Pakistani leader is not without its dangers, but Prime Minister Imran Khan strikes a philosophical note: “We, human beings, all we have, is the ability to struggle. If we succeed or not, is not in our hands, it is in the Almighty’s hands. So I don’t fear death, I don’t fear failure. All that I know is that I will try my best and once I have tried my best, I leave it to the Almighty. Whatever is his decision, I’ll accept it as the will of God.”