‘Pakistan wants to have multidimensional relationship with the US’
ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Imran Khan urged international community to incentivise the Taliban-led interim government to end the longstanding crisis, saying Afghanistan could not be controlled by outsiders.
In an interview with CNN, Khan shed light on what he perceived as a “terrible” relationship with the US and ways to ensure peace in the neighbouring country.
“The Taliban hold all of Afghanistan and if they can sort of now work towards an inclusive government, get all the factions together, Afghanistan could have peace after 40 years. 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,” the premier said.
Khan said that the Taliban need aid from world to end the crisis. However he warned that Afghanistan could not be controlled by outside forces.
“No puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people,” CNN quoted Khan as saying. “So rather than sitting here and thinking that we can control them, we should incentivize 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.”
Responding to a question, he said that Afghanistan witnessed bloodbath following the withdrawal of Soviet Union in 1989. He also feared the same situation after the US forces’ evacuation.
“Our intelligence agencies told us that the Taliban would not be able to take over all of Afghanistan, and if they tried to take Afghanistan militarily, there would be a protracted civil war, which is what we were scared of because we are the ones who would suffer the most,” Khan said.
He urged world to give the Taliban time to form a legitimate government and make good on their promises related to women’s rights and inclusive government.
“It’s a mistake to think that someone from outside will give Afghan women rights. Afghan women are strong. Give them time. They will get their rights,” said Pakistani premier.
“Women should have the ability in a society to fulfill their potential in life,” he said.
“In Pakistan, what we have done is we have actually paid stipends to poor families to get the girls to study in school because we feel that if the girls, if the girl child studies, if they have education, they will get their own rights,” he said.
However, the international community has raised concerns about women’s rights in Afghanistan following the recent statements of the Taliban leaders about ban on sports for female players.
While discussing ties with the US, Khan said he has not spoken with President Joe Biden since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
“I would imagine he’s very busy, but our relationship with the US is not just dependent on a phone call, it needs to be a multidimensional relationship,” said Khan.
He said: “We (Pakistan) were like a hired gun” in the America’s 20-year-long war. He said that Pakistan lost thousands of lives by siding the US in the war as the militant groups had started launching attacks in the country.
Rejecting the allegations that Pakistan had been provided shelter to terrorists, Khan 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?”
He said that Pakistan wanted multidimensional relationship with the US.