Pakistan's top priority is building 'good relationships with our neighbours': Premier

WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan’s “top priority is to build good relationships with our neighbours” apart from putting an end to corruption and building strong institutions.

Speaking at the US Institute of Peace (USIP), he said: “We must have stability in our region.”

In response to a solution for Kashmir, what was important was what Kashmir wanted. “Because of one issue, Kashmir,” India and Pakistan were unable to improve their relations. Any time the two countries make any progress, “some incident happens… and we go back to square one”.

Imran said the biggest problem India and Pakistan face was poverty, with the best way to reducing it “is for us to start trading with each other”.

With regard to Iran and its tensions with the US, the PM said: “People don’t understand the gravity of the situation” of a war with Iran and that such a war would be catastrophic for the world and for Pakistan.

Talking about when US President Donald Trump had extended an invitation to him to visit Washington, he said he had become a bit worried at that time and that suggestions were raining down on him.

“When we met President Trump, the straightforward, charming way he treated us was wonderful. We were blown over. We decided together we will now have a good relationship with the US.

“Today, the government and the military are on the same page with regard to the peace process in Afghanistan,” he added.

‘Out of control’ media

With regard to free press, the premier said: “The Pakistani media is even freer than the British media… Not just free but sometimes out of control.

“In Britain, no media would be allowed to publish the kind of news our media publishes,” the PM added.

Citing improper reporting around his marital life and how, once, an anchorperson had said Imran would be divorced the next day, he said: “We will strengthen the media watchdog, it is not censorship, we will strengthen the watchdog.” 

There were 70 or 80 channels but only three or four have issues, Imran said, adding: “I am probably one of the biggest beneficiaries of the media when we had free media [after 2001]”.

Otherwise, there was the state television at that time, which was under the government’s control, he noted.