Prime Minister Imran Khan has stated that Pakistan cannot be held “responsible” for the Taliban’s actions in Afghanistan as the US and its allies continue to leave and that his government is not a spokesman for the militant group.
“What the Taliban are doing or aren’t doing has nothing to do with us. We are not responsible, neither are we spokespersons for the Taliban,” he said in comments to Afghan media representatives that were aired on Thursday.
The prime minister’s comments came a day after US journalist Judy Woodruff questioned him about Pakistan’s alleged military, intelligence, and financial assistance for the Afghan Taliban during an interview.
Prime minister Imran today distanced Islamabad from the happenings in Kabul, saying: “All we want is peace in Afghanistan.”
He said that the Afghans had a choice to make: to either pursue the US-backed military solution or to pursue a political settlement where there is an inclusive government. “[The latter] is the only solution,” he said.
“There are three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, almost all of them are Pashtuns and most will have sympathies with the Taliban. How is Pakistan supposed to check who is going over there to fight when we have about 30,000 people crossing into Afghanistan every day. How is Pakistan going to check that?”
“We have three million refugees in Pakistan […] how can Pakistan be held responsible? There are refugee camps with 100,000 and 500,000 people.”
Prime Minister said that Pakistan could not filter through the refugee camps to determine who was pro-Taliban and who was not and that the two nations shared no physical border until recently.
“The Durand Line was imaginary,” he said, referring to the 2640-kilometer-long border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said that Pakistan has completed 90 percent of the border fencing.
“We are trying our best, but it is not possible to hold Pakistan responsible when you have over three million refugees here.”
‘Civil war in Afghanistan not in Pakistan’s interest’
He said that it was not in Pakistan’s interest to have a civil war break out in Afghanistan. “What interest could Pakistan have in backing someone to take over Afghanistan?”
He said that no one party will be able to seize control of Afghanistan.
PM Imran said that in the 90s Pakistan had pursued the policy of ‘strategic depth’ as it was wary of Indian influence in Afghanistan.
“In those days we did try to have favorites. Now, and especially in my government, we believe that Afghanistan can never be controlled from the outside.”
As a result, whomever the Afghans pick, Pakistan would have excellent ties, he added.
“We have no favorites now.”
‘Discrepancy in what Afghan envoy’s daughter says and what evidence shows’
In response to the recent event in Islamabad involving the Afghan ambassador’s daughter, the premier said that police have traced Silsila Alikhil’s precise route. Taxi drivers, he claimed, were tracked down and questioned.
“Unfortunately, what the ambassador’s daughter is saying and what the cameras show do not add up. She says she was put in a taxi, taken away, and beaten up. But there is a picture of that taxi and she is sitting there and she is fine.”
He said that the police had gone over all of the data and discovered a “discrepancy.” He said that there was no way to confirm what had occurred since the ambassador’s daughter had returned to Afghanistan.
He said that all information will be sent to the Afghan investigation team so that they could interrogate the daughter when they return.