Couldn’t have said ‘absolutely not’ to US if I had assets abroad: PM

Imran Khan says RSS ideology is a threat to India itself

Our Correspondent July 17, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing a gathering at Bagh, Azad Jammu and Kashmir on May 17, 2021. PHOTO: PID


Prime Minister Imran Khan has said he would not be able to reject the United States’ demand to provide air bases inside Pakistan, if he had properties, business and assets in the west “like past rulers” of the country.

“I will live and die for Pakistan as I have no stakes outside the country; otherwise I could have never said ‘absolutely not’ [to the US],” the premier said on Saturday while addressing a huge public gathering in Bagh district of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) where an election is round the corner.

Prime Minister Imran Khan on June 19 categorically said that Pakistan would "absolutely not" allow any bases and use of its territory for any sort of action inside Afghanistan.

"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 had told "Axios on HBO" in an interview.

In May, the US Centcom chief had said in a Pentagon briefing that al Qaeda, Islamic State and other terrorist groups could regroup in Afghanistan post US-exit and that he would like to keep a small “quick response force (QRF)” on-call in the region to neutralise any threat.

Also read: Electioneering picks up in Azad Jammu and Kashmir

This statement had set off speculations that the US could be looking to keep the “QRF” in a military base in one of Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.

In an apparent reference to his political rivals – PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari – the prime minister said the leaders who have properties, wealth and businesses abroad could not fight the case of the country.

“These rulers had allowed [US] drone attacks inside the country,” he added.

At the rally, the premier paid homage to the brave people of Kashmir and their long struggle against illegal Indian occupation. He specially mentioned Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri freedom fighter who was martyred by the occupation forces in July 2016.

He said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Indian government illegally annexed the disputed valley in August 2019 and intensified its oppression against the people but it could not break their resolve.

The PM warned the Indian government that extremist RSS – Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – inspired ideology could lead nowhere. “The RSS-BJP ideology poses a real threat to India itself. The ruling junta does not recognize all the minorities living in India as their citizens,” he said.

The prime minister said he would continue to raise his voice for the rights of Kashmiris at all forums.

Key to prosperity

Prime Minister Imran Khan said only the countries with the rule of law and justice have progressed and prospered while the nations with different sets of rules for the rich and the poor were doomed.

"Those nations were destroyed who had no regard for the rule of law or who had different rules for the rich and the poor," he said, regretting that in Pakistan, the justice system could not nab the big fish.

Amid clapping and slogans, the prime minister referred to the creation of the State of Madina, in which no one was regarded as above the law. "Our Holy Prophet (PBUH) also inculcated a spirit of self-respect in the downtrodden people who later rose to prominence in the world," he said.

He said nations are formed on the basis of their ideologies.

The prime minister said Founder of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had emphatically pronounced an ideology, which became the basis for the nation.

He said for the first time in the world' history, the State of Madina took responsibility for the weaker segments of the society including the poor, widows and orphans. The prime minister said his government is also taking steps for the formation of a welfare state.

The PM said the PTI led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has given health cards to all its citizens whereas Punjab province, which is also ruled by the PTI, will extend this facility to all people by the end of this year. Health insurance would also be given to all the residents of the AJK this year.

Under this facility, each family would get free medical treatment worth Rs1 million.

For the first time in the country's history, he said, a government is facilitating provisions of loans, so that the poor people and low-income groups could afford their own houses through easy installments.

“By the end of the year, we would be launching a new programme, 'Kamyab Pakistan', under which the poor families would get interest free loans for starting their small business.”

He said each member of a family would get this facility.

According to the premier, the government would also impart technical education especially to womenfolk to enable them to earn their livelihood while sitting at homes using the latest technology.



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