ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan says Pakistan has rendered numerous sacrifices in fight against terrorism and scapegoating us for situation in Afghanistan is painful.
In an interview with Turkish TV, TRT World, the Prime Minister said no Pakistani was involved in 9/11 but we paid a heavy price for becoming ally of the US.
He said it was unexpected that there will be a peaceful transfer of power, however, now the problem in Afghanistan is looming humanitarian crisis and without aid, there can be more chaos in Afghanistan.
Imran Khan has said that the United States will have to recognise the new Afghan government. “The US is currently searching scapegoats on the Afghan issue. US President Joe Biden is under pressure on the pulling troops out of Afghanistan, I have sympathy for him,” PM Imran said.
He said that certain quarters in US were unfairly targeting Pakistan for what had happened inside Afghanistan.
There was complete shock and confusion in US after its troops’ pullout and swift march of Taliban, he said. He particularly referred to the recent debate on Afghan debacle in the US Senate as the Taliban returned to power after twenty years.
The prime minister said they were ‘seeking scapegoats’ and targeting Pakistan for their confusion and policies, was unfair.
The Afghan army collapsed and that was what completely surprised the US quarters, he said, adding if Taliban government collapsed, the biggest losers would be the people of Afghanistan. “They must come up for solution and think about the people of Afghanistan,” he said.
The prime minister cautioned that if the Afghan people were left in the limbo, the crisis was going to deepen. He maintained that there was danger of looming human crises as the country that had survived on 70 per cent of foreign aid and if this component was left out and unless there was help in the short term, the Taliban would not be able to stand on their feet, ‘so there is greater danger of collapse, chaos and humanitarian crises.’
The prime minister said Pakistan would have been the most affected country if there was chaos. About recognizing Taliban set up, the prime minister replied that Pakistan government was holding consultations and was in discussion with all the neighbouring countries. He said the US has to recognize the new reality sooner or later.
To another question, he said that during 2017, he met the US leadership and explained to them the situation in Afghanistan, but they were clueless. The US society had no idea of situation in Afghanistan. What happened now totally took them by surprise. “You see in the US Senate, they have no idea,” he added.
In the past, former chief of army staff General Kiyani had also explained the Afghan situation to the US leadership. He further elaborated that as immediate neighbour to Afghanistan with strong traditional and ethnic affinities; they knew the history of that country. He said Pakistan shared borders with Afghanistan where half of the population was Pashtuns, who resided on both sides of the border.
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, he added.
To explain his viewpoint, the prime minister said the people inhibiting Pakistani tribal areas started attacking Pakistan, led by groups like Tahreek-i-Taliban (TTP), when the government had decided to side with the US. While on the Afghan soil, there was a collateral damage and drone attacks which led to swelling of militant ranks. So, Taliban’s movement grew.
The prime minister also denounced former US president George Bush’s threat after the 9/11 attacks asking Pakistan to side with the US. He termed it an ‘imperialistic attitude’ and ‘ridiculous policy’. If you did not agree with the US policy or its military operations, he said, you were branded as pro-Taliban. Prime Minister Imran Khan said ‘I do not believe in military solutions”. He said that he was even against Iraq war as use of military force was no solutions to conflicts.
The prime minister said in 9/11 attacks, no Pakistani was involved, but the country had to suffer colossal damage in the US led war. About 80,000 lives were lost, huge chunk of tribal population had been displaced with hundreds of billions of losses to its fragile economy, while its border areas were devastated. Pakistan had made these sacrifices for the US as mere a scapegoat, he added.
He said the well trained 3,00,000 Afghan army fully equipped with weapons could not resist Taliban force, and former president along with his government functionaries fled the country. The prime minister expressed his optimism that when this angle and rationality appeared, the US would realize how could Pakistan be held responsible for its policies over Afghanistan.
He also strongly rejected the allegations that Pakistan had been assisting Taliban in capturing Afghanistan. The Taliban were seen in Kabul while riding on motorcycles without shoes, he added. The prime minister while drawing conclusion said that Afghan people had always resisted the foreign forces, and had been very independent minded people. ”You cannot control them from outside like US tried to,” he added.
To another query, he said from Pakistan’s point of view, ‘inclusive government means a stable Afghanistan after four decades of war’. “As well wishers of Afghan people, we want them to be stable. They could be controlled from outside, it’s a fantasy. Pakistan only suggested there should be an inclusive government, he said, adding Taliban also understood it.
Prime minister Khan said Afghanistan was home to multi ethnic groups, where Pashtuns were in majority while Tajik, Uzbek and Hazaras were minorities. He reiterated that Afghan people had been very democratic as they had a decentralized democratic system. However, about the recent situation, he said that it was very difficult one. “I do not know what will happen. I pray for peace and stability of Afghanistan,” he added.
About Pak -US ties, the prime minister said the two sides had been constantly in touch with each other.
To a question, he said US president Joe Biden was under a lot of pressure as he was being criticized for the awful airport scenes and the later happenings. Those scenes drew reaction from the US public.
Prime minister Khan maintained that bilateral ties between the two sides had a long history in which there were ups and downs. He asserted that on Afghanistan, US’ role was critical as it left the country after twenty years of war and spending over 2 trillion dollars. If there was a mess, like after USSR’s forces’ withdrawal during 90s, it could once against result in bloodbath. If there was a chaos in Afghanistan, the international terrorist outfits could find safe havens there, he cautioned.