Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister, has accused the US of seeing his country as only useful in the context of the “mess” it is leaving behind in Afghanistan after 20 years of war.
As talks between the militants and the Afghan government have stagnated, and violence in Afghanistan has risen dramatically, Washington has pressed Pakistan to utilize its influence over the Taliban to negotiate an elusive peace agreement.
“Pakistan is just considered only to be useful in the context of somehow settling this mess which has been left behind after 20 years of trying to find a military solution when there was not one,” Khan told foreign journalists at his home in Islamabad.
The US troops will leave Afghanistan by August 31, 20 years after overthrowing the Taliban regime in 2001. However, as the US departs, the Taliban now controls more land than at any time since the war began.
Pakistan’s backing for the insurgent organization, according to Kabul and many Western countries, helped it to survive the war.
The accusation that Pakistan, while being a US ally, is aiding the Taliban has long been a source of friction between Washington and Islamabad. Pakistan denies having any ties to the Taliban.
Islamabad, according to Khan, is not taking sides in Afghanistan.
“I think that the Americans have decided that India is their strategic partner now, and I think that’s why there’s a different way of treating Pakistan now,” Khan said.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars and are archrivals. The two have a sour relationship and only have limited diplomatic contacts at the moment.
Under the present circumstances, Khan said, reaching a political solution in Afghanistan seems to be tough.
He said he attempted to convince Taliban commanders to strike an agreement when they were in Pakistan.
“The condition is that as long as Ashraf Ghani is there, we (Taliban) are not going to talk to the Afghan government,” Khan said, quoting the Taliban leaders as telling him.
Peace negotiations between the Taliban, who see Ghani and his administration as American stooges, and a team of Kabul-nominated Afghan negotiators began in September but have stalled.
Representatives from a number of nations, including the US, are now in Doha, Qatar’s capital, speaking with both parties in a last-ditch effort to reach an agreement.
Air attacks have continued to assist Afghan troops against Taliban advances, but it is uncertain if this support will continue beyond August 31.
After US troops leave Afghanistan, Khan said Pakistan has “made it very clear” that it does not want any American military bases in Pakistan.