“Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that the US would have to recognise the new reality in Afghanistan, sooner or later, emphasising that “seeking scapegoats” and targeting Pakistan for the rise of the Taliban in the war-torn country was unfair.
In an interview with TRT World, the prime minister said that there was complete shock and confusion in the US after pulling out its troops from Afghanistan and swift march of the Taliban. He particularly referred to the recent debate on the Afghan debacle in the US Senate.
“Seeking scapegoats and targeting Pakistan for their confusion and policies, which is unfair,” Imran said.
“What happened now totally took them by surprise. You see in the US Senate, they have no idea,” the prime minister added.
When asked about recognising the Taliban set-up, the prime minister Imran replied that the Pakistan government was in discussion with all its neighbouring countries. “The US has to recognise the new reality, sooner or later.”
Imran said that the Afghan army had collapsed and if the Taliban government collapsed, the biggest losers would be the people of Afghanistan. “They [the US] must come up with a solution and think about the people of Afghanistan,” he emphasised.
He maintained that in the absence of foreign aid the Taliban would not be able to stand on their feet. “So there is a greater danger of collapse, chaos and humanitarian crisis … Pakistan will be the most affected country if there is chaos,” he added.
Responding to another question, he said that in 2017, he met the US leadership and explained to them the situation in Afghanistan, but they were clueless. In the past, former army chief Gen Ashfaq Kayani had also explained the Afghan situation to the US leadership.
“The US society had no idea of situation in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that there was no military solution to the Afghan issue as Afghan people did not accept foreigners and under their traditions, they sought revenge if someone was killed at their homes.
Imran denounced former US president George W Bush’s threat after the 9/11 attacks, asking Pakistan to side with the US. He termed it an “imperialistic attitude” and a “ridiculous” policy. “If you did not agree with the US policy or its military operations,” he said, “you were branded as pro-Taliban”.
Imran said: “I do not believe in military solutions,” adding that he was even against the Iraq war as the use of military force was no solutions to conflicts. He recalled that in the 9/11 attacks, no Pakistani was involved, but the country had to suffer colossal damage in the US led war.
He also strongly rejected the allegations that Pakistan had been assisting the Taliban in capturing Afghanistan. He expressed his optimism that when rationality appeared, the US would realise how could Pakistan be held responsible for its policies over Afghanistan.
Read Pakistan urges world community not to isolate Afghan Taliban
Responding to another query, Imran said that from Pakistan’s point of view, an “inclusive government means a stable Afghanistan” after four decades of war. “It’s a fantasy that they could be controlled from outside. Pakistan only suggested there should be an inclusive government, Taliban also understand it.”
Responding to yet another question, he said that US President Joe Biden was under a lot of pressure because he was being criticised for the awful Kabul airport scenes and the later happenings. “Those scenes drew reaction from the US public.”
Imran warned that if there was a chaos in Afghanistan, the international terrorist outfits could find safe havens there. He also expressed concerns that members of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban, Pakistan (TTP), even the Islamic State (IS), could cross into Pakistan, by joining ordinary Afghans at the border.
In Afghanistan, he said, the terrorist outfits were helped by the former Afghan intelligence agency and India’s premier intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). They were used to conduct attacks inside Pakistan, he added.
The TTP had recently attacked Chinese workers and conducted attacks in Balochistan, he said. However, the prime minister pointed out that the concern was temporarily and they would counter it. He said that Pakistan had been talking with some groups within the TTP, which had been taking place in Afghanistan.
About the Pakistan-US ties, the prime minister said the two sides had been constantly in touch with each other. He maintained that the bilateral ties had a long history in which there were ups and downs.
About the human rights abuses in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), Prime Minister Imran said that Pakistan had raised the issue at different fora, including the UN, human rights groups and in the media.
He stressed that the human rights groups and international community should also take up the issue of rights abuses in IIOJK in the same manner, they had been concerned about the protection of human rights in Afghanistan. “They should not be selective … as they would lose credibility,” he added.
The prime minister observed the attempts to form blocs in the world could result into another cold war.
He wished that it could not happen again because with cooperation and support, the world could gain more.
About Pakistan China ties, he said these relations had always been very strong. He added that he frequently held conversations with the Chinese leadership and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was heading in the right direction despite the Covid pandemic.
About recent hike in petroleum prices, Imran said that the Covid pandemic had disrupted supplies all over the world, causing hike in the prices of daily commodities. However, he maintained that the prices of petroleum and commodities had been cheaper in Pakistan, when compared with the entire region.
Regarding the opposition’s criticism of his government, he said that opposition had been divided and fighting for its survival. “Their leaderships are facing cases of huge corruption and now are in total disarray, he added,