Pakistan ready for partnership with US for Afghan peace: PM Imran


ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Imran Khan has reiterated that Pakistan is ready to be a US partner for peace in Afghanistan, but as the US completes withdrawal of its forces country will avoid risking further conflict.

In his opinion published in Washington Post on Tuesday, he said Pakistan and United States have the same interests in that long-suffering country as both want a political settlement, stability, economic development and the denial of safe heaven for terrorists there.

He said Pakistan opposes any military takeover of Afghanistan, as it will lead to decades of civil war, for the Taliban cannot win over the whole of the country hence must be included in any government for it to succeed.

He said Pakistan has no favorites and will work with any government that enjoys the confidence of the Afghan people as history proves that Afghanistan can never be controlled from the outside.

“Our country has suffered so much from the wars in Afghanistan. More than 70,000 Pakistanis have been killed. While the United States provided $20 billion in aid, losses to the Pakistani economy have exceeded $150 billion,” he wrote.

Tourism and investment dried up and after joining the US effort, Pakistan was targeted as a collaborator, leading to terrorism from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan and other groups.

“There are more than three million Afghan refugees in our country if there is further civil war, instead of a political settlement, there will be many more refugees, destabilizing and further impoverishing the frontier areas on our border,” he pointed out.

The premier said if Pakistan were to agree to host US bases, from which to bomb Afghanistan, and an Afghan civil war ensued, Pakistan would be targeted for revenge by terrorists again.

He said he believes that promoting economic connectivity and regional trade is the key to lasting peace and security in Afghanistan.

“US drone attacks, which I warned against, didn’t win the war, but they did create hatred for Americans, swelling the ranks of terrorist groups against both our countries.”

He also expressed fears that another war will ensured in the war-torn country if the matter is not solved politically.

PM Khan also highlighted the dividends the region would get after peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s desire for boosting trade and connectivity with Central Asia for an economic uplift.

“This is why we have done a lot of real diplomatic heavy lifting to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, first with the Americans, and then with the Afghan government,” he wrote.

“We know that if the Taliban tries to declare a military victory, it will lead to endless bloodshed. We hope the Afghan government will also show more flexibility in the talks, and stop blaming Pakistan, as we are doing everything we can short of military action.”

He said that all the neighbours of Afghanistan and regional powers desire peace and stability in the country.

“Further military action is futile. If we share this responsibility, Afghanistan, once synonymous with the ‘Great Game’ and regional rivalries, could instead emerge as a model of regional cooperation,” the premier concluded.

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