ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is no more reliant on the United States to meet its military and other requirements, says Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
In an exclusive interview to the Arab News, PM Abbasi said “any sanctions or restraints… put on our systems only degrades our efforts to fight terror, and it affects the whole equation in this region.”
Regarding Pakistan’s perceived reliance on allies in ‘war on terror’, the prime minister said “If one source dries up, we have no option but to go to another source. It may cost more, it may consume more resources, but we have to fight that war, and that’s what we emphasized to all the people that we met.”
He underlined that Pakistan have major US weapons systems in the military, but the country have also diversified. We have Chinese and European systems. Recently, for the first time we inducted Russian attack helicopters, he added.
‘Pakistan pins hopes on CPEC’
The Prime Minister said Pakistan and its economy was in an “expansion phase,” and placing its hopes for the future on Chinese investment — particularly CPEC, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, part of China’s ambitious $1 trillion One Belt One Road initiative.
“If you look at any economy, the basic ingredient is more infrastructure to resolve infrastructural issues and this is a quantum leap in that direction,” he said.
“It’s a massive investment, over $60 billion today. It’s mostly in infrastructure that we badly needed. Our roads, ports, industrial zones … it will open up western channels access to the world. It will help us to move our commerce faster. It will help us develop more industries and help with exports.
“It’s really a game changer and it will have multiplier effect. It will attract more investment, it will attract more projects. So, it’s really something that we feel will pay very high dividends for Pakistan.”
When asked about his experience to run the country facing so many challenges. “It’s a complex job,” he responded, adding that governing a country with a burgeoning population of over 207 million is no walk in the park.
“Pakistan is one of the largest countries in the world… It’s a nuclear power. We have a challenging neighborhood. There’s a war on terror in the country. There are issues in Afghanistan. There’s a very large foreign military presence there… We have a neighbor to the east with which we’ve had several wars. They (India) are also a nuclear power. We have a dispute. They occupied Kashmir, which is our territory… The economic challenge is (also) there.”
‘Nobody wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan’
Mr. Abbasi, to a question about Pakistan’s ties with Afghanistan, said: “We’re partners in the war on terror, and that’s what we emphasized. We emphasized to everybody we met there (at the UNGA) that nobody wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan,” added Abbasi.
“The reality today is that much of the area bordering Pakistan is controlled by the Taliban. The people we’re fighting in Pakistan today, their sanctuaries are in Afghanistan, their leadership is living there, the planning is done there, the logistical bases are there, and they regularly cross the border and attack our installations. We recently had a suicide attack on the deputy chairman of the Senate. He survived, but 22 people were killed. It was by an Afghan national who had crossed the border to attack his convoy deep inside Pakistan,” Abbasi said.
“We’re fencing our border. We’re open to Afghan liaison officers. We have Afghan refugees here. So if anything is pinpointed and the intelligence is provided, we take action,” he added. “Whatever happens in Afghanistan affects us. Whatever happens here affects them,” he said.