In an interview with “Axios on HBO” with Jonathan Swan, which aired at 3am PST on Monday morning, Prime Minister Imran Khan said that “if a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on the men, unless they are robots”.
Prime Minister Khan discussed various issues in his interview with Axios’ Swan ranging from US withdrawal from Afghanistan to Pak-US relationship, Uyghur Muslims in China and sexual violence in Pakistan.
Rape and sexual violence
Swan asked PM Khan about his previous comments pertaining to rape and vulgarity, PM said that it is “such nonsense”.
“I said that the concept of purdah is avoid temptation in the society. We don’t have discos here, we don’t have night clubs, so it is a completely different society, way of life here. So if you raise temptation in the society to the point and all these young guys have nowhere to go, it has consequences in the society.”
Swan asked: “Do you think that what women wear has any affect, that that’s part of this temptation?”
“If a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on the men, unless they are robots. I mean it’s common sense,” replied PM.
Swan asked if this would provoke acts of sexual violence, to which PM Khan responded, “It depends which society you live in. If in a society, people haven’t seen that sort of thing, it will have an impact on them. If you grow up in a society like you, maybe it won’t on you. This cultural imperialism, whatever is in our culture must be acceptable to everyone else. It’s not.”
“Jonathan, it’s about my society. My priority is how my society behaves, what reactions are caused in my society so when I see sex crime going through the roof, we sit down, we discuss how we are going to tackle this. It is having an impact in my society. We have to do something about it.”
US withdrawal from Afghanistan
Axios’ Swan asked PM Khan if he was happy that the US military is finally withdrawing from Afghanistan after 20 years. PM said, “Happy in one way because there was never going to be a military solution in Afghanistan. Anxious that they [the US] are leaving without a political settlement, there is a possibility of civil war.” When asked what would a political settlement look like, PM said that a political settlement in Afghanistan “would mean a sort of a coalition government, a government from the Taliban side and the other side. There is no other solution”.
Swan asked if PM Khan thinks the Americans made a mistake by saying they are getting out by September 11. The PM said they got themselves in such a big mess that they had to give some sort of timeframe. “But the moment they gave a timeframe, Taliban would have considered that a victory.” PM was asked how he felt about the prospect of the Taliban effectively controlling Afghanistan and if he is happy to welcome them into the community of nations. “As far as Pakistan is concerned, whoever represents the people of Afghanistan, we will deal with them.”
Swan asked what if they were not democratically elected and does it not concern you on some level that this group of people is accumulating power right next door to you. PM Imran Khan said, “Look, I am not a spokesman for Taliban. For me to say, you know what they are doing or what they shouldn’t be doing is pointless. In case Taliban go for an all-out victory, there is going to be incredible amount of bloodshed. And let me tell you, the country that is going to suffer the most after Afghanistan is going to be Pakistan. We already have three million Afghan refugees here. And this could lead to another exodus so that is our biggest concern. The Americans, before they leave, there must be a settlement.”
Relationship with the United States
Swan asked PM Imran Khan why the American CIA Director Bill Burns made an unannounced visit to Islamabad. “Ever since 9/11, there’s constantly been in touch between our intelligence agencies.” PM Khan said he did not meet the CIA director but the head of ISI met him.
Swan said that the Americans want to have their spies and special forces based in Pakistan to keep an eye on what is happening across the border. To a question if he will allow the American government to have CIA here in Pakistan to conduct cross-border counterterrorism missions against al-Qaeda, ISIS or the Taliban, PM Khan emphatically said, “Absolutely not.” The host interjected and asked: “Seriously?”
“There is no way we will allow any bases, any sort of action from Pakistani territory into Afghanistan. Absolutely not. Pakistan suffered 70,000 casualties, more than any other country by joining the American war. We cannot afford any more military actions from our territory. We will be partners in peace, not in conflict,” added Khan.
Swan said that the American military is discussing doing airstrikes potentially to support the Afghan forces against the Taliban. “Would you allow the American Airforce to use your air space for those airstrikes?”
“We are not going to be part of any conflict anymore,” replied Khan.
But you haven’t decided yet whether you will let them use your airspace, asked Swan again. PM Khan said this has not been discussed at all. “Why would the Americans be using bombing Afghanistan after it hasn’t worked for 20 years, why will it work again?”
PM Khan said he has not spoken to US President Joe Biden since he took office. “Whenever he has time, he can speak to me. But at the moment, clearly he has other priorities.” When asked what would he say to Biden when he does meet him, PM said: “The US has a big responsibility as the most powerful nation in the world. Almost 1.4 billion people are living in the subcontinent. We are held hostage to one dispute in Kashmir. A disputed territory. According to the United Nations Security Council resolutions, there should have been a plebiscite for the people of Kashmir to decide about their own future. That has never taken place. It’s festering. If the Americans have the resolve, the will, it can be sorted out.”
Prime Minister Khan that the purpose of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons “is not an offensive thing”. He said that any country that has a neighbour seven times the size as Pakistan has, “would be worried”. PM Khan said he is “completely against nuclear arms. I always have been”. Ever since the nuclear deterrence, Pakistan and India have not been to war despite three wars in the past. “We have border skirmishes but we have never faced war. The moment there is a settlement on Kashmir, I believe the two neighbours will live as civilised people. We will not need to have these nuclear deterrence.”
Uyghur Muslims in China
Swan asked PM Khan why he does not speak about Uyghurs in China when he is so vocal about Islamophobia in the west.
“What our conversations have been with the Chinese, this is not the case according to them. Whatever issues we have with the Chinese, we speak to them behind closed doors. China has been one of the greatest friends to us in our most difficult times. When we were really struggling, our economy was struggling, China came to our rescue so we respect the way they are,” said PM Khan. He also questioned why the people of Kashmir are ignored and how this is hypocrisy.
“Am I going to start talking about everything? I concentrate on what is happening on my border, in my country…that concerns me more.”