Wednesday Sep 15, 2021
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that in order to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan, the world should "engage with the Taliban" and they should also be "incentivised" on issues such as inclusive government and women's rights.
The premier was interviewed by CNN on Wednesday at his Bani Gala residence in Islamabad, during which he spoke about the situation in Afghanistan, the role of Pakistan in fostering regional peace, and the country's relationship with the United States.
Per the outlet, PM Khan said that Pakistan had to endure a "terrible" relationship with the United States which turned out to be disastrous for Pakistan.
He added that the country, under his leadership, is now seeking a "more pragmatic approach in dealing with Afghanistan's new leaders."
The premier told the outlet that Afghanistan is on a "historic crossroad" and it could finally achieve peace after 40 years if the incumbent Taliban government could form an inclusive government by getting all the factions on board.
"But if it goes wrong and which is what we are really worried about, it could go to chaos. The biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem, and the reemergence of terrorism " he said, adding that since Afghanistan is undergoing a critical situation, the Taliban regime is looking towards the world for aid.
"[The provision of aid] could be used to push the group towards the right direction and legitimacy," he said, stressing that the country should remain sovereign and should not be controlled by outside forces.
"No puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people," he said. "So rather than sitting here and thinking that we can control them, we should incentivise them. Because Afghanistan, this current government, clearly feels that without international aid and help, they will not be able to stop this crisis. So we should push them in the right direction."
The premier also said that had the Taliban taken over Afghanistan by military force, a civil war would have ensued, adding that Pakistan was scared of such repercussions as it would have become the biggest sufferer.
He said that since the Taliban have taken control of the country, the world should "give them time" so that they could deliver their promises and form a legitimate government.
With regards to women having the same rights as men in public and private lives, PM Khan said: "Women should have the ability in society to fulfil their potential in life [but] you cannot impose women's rights in Afghanistan from abroad."
When questioned about the decision of the United States and NATO forces to withdraw from Afghanistan, PM Khan said that the "US should have attempted a political settlement with the Taliban from a position of strength," the outlet said.
According to PM Khan, since Pakistan decided to support the US on its War on Terror, thousands of Pakistanis were killed in terrorist attacks by militant groups.
"Just because we sided with the US, we became an ally of the US after 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. The suffering this country went through with at one point there were 50 militant groups attacking our government... on top of it, they must also know there were 480 drone attacks by the US in Pakistan," he told the outlet.
Responding to a question, PM Khan said that intelligence agencies stay in touch with different groups, just like the CIA does.
"The US does not know about the on the ground situation, which is why it does not trust Pakistan."
He also called out the US for repeatedly accusing Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and said: "What are these safe havens? The area of Pakistan along the border of Afghanistan had the heaviest surveillance by the United States drones ... surely they would have known if there were any safe havens?"
The premier said that Pakistan was unable to take military action against the Afghan Taliban because they were not attacking Pakistan.
"Pakistan had its own internal matters to look at, such as attacks from the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP)."
He said that had he been in the government at that time, he would have taken a different course of action.
"I cannot destroy my country to fight someone else's war," he said. "My responsibility would have been to the people of my country."
PM Khan also said that he hasn't met President Joe Biden after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
"He did not call as he is a busy man," the PM said.