Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the Kashmir dispute, which holds the 1.4 billion people of South Asia hostage, could be settled if the United States shows a ‘resolve and will’. “This festering [dispute] can ease if the US has the resolve and will. This can be sorted out,” the prime minister said in an interview with Jonathan Swan of ‘Axios on HBO’ aired on Monday. The ‘Kashmir dispute’ was put on top agenda by the prime minister as the interviewer asked him about the priorities of discussion when he meets US President Joe Biden in future. “Almost 1.4 billion people in the sub-continent are held hostage with one dispute of Kashmir,” he said, adding the United States has a big responsibility in this regard for being a powerful nation of the world. He said the Kashmir dispute needs settlement as per the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council which call for a plebiscite to let the Kashmiris decide about their own future. The prime minister pointed out that the West is ignoring the genocide in Kashmir with hundreds and thousands of Kashmiris killed by the Indian troops. “This is such a big issue in the Western world as why are the people of Kashmir ignored,” he said, adding that the Kashmir issue is ‘much more relevant’ where 800,000 Indian troops have put the nine million Kashmiris in an ‘open prison’. “Why is this not an issue? This is hypocrisy,” he said, referring to the apathy of the West towards the plight of Kashmiri people facing the humanitarian crisis for decades. Asked about Pakistan’s ‘growing nuclear capability’, he said Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal was ‘simply for its own defence’ in the scenario of a country seven times of its size. He expressed the belief that the resolution of Kashmir issue would lead the two countries towards peace. “The moment there is a settlement on Kashmir, I believe Pakistan and India will live as civilized neighbours without nuclear deterrence,” he said. The prime minister emphatically reiterated that there would be no talks with India unless it takes back its illegal and unilateral steps of August 5, 2019, on the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. On the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, he stressed that there must be a prior ‘political settlement’ as military solution is not the viable option. He hinted at the possibility of a civil war if the US troops pulled out without a political settlement, which, he explained, as the ‘coalition government with Taliban and others as stakeholders’. Asked if Pakistan would like to welcome the Taliban into the comity of nations, he said, “As far as Pakistan is concerned, whoever is representing the people of Afghanistan, we would deal with them.” Prime Minister Imran Khan categorically said 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,” he said, in response to the question if he would allow the American government to have CIA conduct counter-terrorism missions in Pakistan against Al-Qaeda, ISIS or the Taliban. “We will be partners in peace, not in conflict,” he said. Pakistan, he added, cannot afford any more military actions from its soil as it is the country which suffered most after Afghanistan. To a question if Pakistan would allow the US to use its air space for strikes, he said, “Such an approach of the US [of airstrikes] did not work for 20 years. Why would it work again?” On Islamophobia, the prime minister termed a ‘big communication gap’ between the Islamic world and the Western societies the main reason. After 9/11, he said, the term ‘Islamic terrorism’ was coined that misguided the people in the West, who started believing that Islam led to terrorism. He pointed out that with the involvement of a few Muslims in terrorist activities, the entire 1.3 billion Muslim community became the target. To a question, the prime minister said his foremost priorities were: alleviation of poverty, making the country a welfare state, and to bring the powerful under the rule of law. He said in his opinion, rule of law was very important as a country would remain poor if did not have rule of law. He referred to a fact-finding report under the office of UN secretary general, which had identified a flight of capital from the developing countries worth 1 trillion dollars every year to the Western capitals. He said it was happening because lack of rule of law in the poor and developing countries, adding two families in Pakistan had ruled for decades and took billions of dollars outside the country. The prime minister opined that such corrupt practices impacted the currency, devaluing it and thus resulted in increased poverty. On doing vastly better than the United States on Covid-19, the prime minister said partial lockdown coupled with comprehensive data analysis helped his government keep the pandemic in control. Smart lockdown was the “best decision” to cope with the situation, he added. About the successful lockdown policy of the government, the prime minister said clamping down a complete lockdown would have impacted the economy. “Pakistan had already dire economic situation, but the government’s smart lockdown policy saved the economy,” he added. “A balanced approach actually saved us and Pakistan managed to save its economy and people’s lives,” he added. To a question, Prime Minister Imran Khan reacted to the rising cases of sexual violence in Pakistan. Referring to the prime minister’s earlier remarks on vulgarity that triggered a backlash on social media, Swan asked, “On increasing vulgarity, you said it will have consequences, and you were accused of rape victim-blaming. How do you respond to that?” In response, the prime minister defended the criticism against himself, saying “it is such nonsense”. “I never said veils – this was never said. I said the concept of pardah is [to] avoid temptation in society. We don’t have discos here, we don’t have nightclubs,” he said. “So this is a completely different society, a 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 on the society,” he added. “Do you think what women wear–that, that’s part of any temptation?” asked Swan. “If a woman is wearing very few clothes, it will have an impact on men,” responded PM Imran Khan. “Unless they’re robots. I mean, it’s common sense.” “Yes, but will it really provoke acts of sexual violence?” asked Swan. “It depends which society you live in,” answered Imran Khan. “If in a society, people haven’t seen that sort of a thing, it will have an impact on them,” he added.