Prime Minister Imran Khan has remarked that the US “seriously messed it up in Afghanistan,” questioning the US motive for invading the country in the first place and then attempting to negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban from a position of weakness.
The prime minister’s comments come as the US military and Nato are nearing the end of their engagement in Afghanistan, which has witnessed a resurgence of the Taliban across the country.
“I think the US has really messed it up in Afghanistan,” the prime minister stated on Tuesday night on PBS NewsHour, an American news show.
PM Khan chastised the United States for attempting to “find a military solution in Afghanistan when there was never one.”
Read more: Unfair to blame Pakistan for Afghanistan situation: PM Imran Khan
“And individuals like myself, who were saying there’s no military answer and who are familiar with Afghanistan’s history, were labelled anti-American. Taliban Khan was my moniker.”
He bemoaned the fact that “sadly, the bargaining power of the Americans or the Nato were gone” by the time the US recognized there was no military option in Afghanistan.
When there were as many as 150,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan, the prime minister claimed, the US should have opted for a diplomatic settlement much sooner.
“However, the Taliban believed they had won after reducing the number of forces to just 10,000 and announcing an evacuation date. As a result, it was quite difficult to persuade them to compromise at this time “He informed Judy Woodruff, the host of the show.
When asked if he thought the Taliban’s rebirth was a good thing for Afghanistan, the prime minister repeated that the only beneficial consequence would be a political settlement “that is inclusive.”
He went on to say, “Obviously, the Taliban [will] be a part of that government.”
‘Last thing we want is a civil war in Afghanistan’
The “worst-case scenario,” according to the prime minister, is for Afghanistan to fall into civil conflict. “From Pakistan’s perspective, that is the worst-case scenario, because then we are faced with two scenarios, one of which is a refugee crisis,” he said.
“Pakistan already has almost three million Afghan refugees. And we are concerned that a prolonged civil conflict will result in an influx of migrants. And our economic predicament does not allow for another influx.”
On the second issue, he voiced concern that the consequences of a future civil war across the border could “flood into Pakistan.”
‘Extremely unfair’ to allege Pakistan supported Taliban
“I think this extremely unfair,” he said when asked about Pakistan’s purported military, intelligence, and financial backing for Afghanistan.
Even though “Pakistan had nothing to do with what transpired [in New York on September 11, 2001],” the premier pointed Woodruff that 70,000 Pakistanis died as a result of the US war in Afghanistan.
Al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan at the time, and “there were no violent Taliban in Pakistan,” he claimed, denying that Pakistan was engaged in the World Trade Center attack.
“We had nothing to do with it,” he said again, noting that Pakistan’s economy had suffered a $150 billion loss as a result of the Afghan war.