In an exclusive interview given to Voice of America (VOA), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan has emphasised the need for both Pakistan and Afghanistan to remove tensions in bilateral ties and build mutual trust to assist the reconciliation process.
“I am very sad that the relationship is not good and I am also sad to say that Pakistan is to blame. We did not have consistent policies dealing with Afghanistan and then the interference in the past in affairs of Afghans has caused a lot of bad blood,” he said.
However, Khan was optimistic that things would getter between the neighbours.
Afghan religious scholars issue fatwa against peace talks
“I think in future I see very good relationship between the two countries. I think there is a realisation in Pakistan that the mistakes were made. We feel that we have to correct this bad blood caused by flawed policies,” Khan said.
Urging Afghanistan’s Taliban to negotiate a peaceful resolution to its conflict with the Kabul government, Khan said, “They (the Taliban) must come to the table and they must resolve this dispute through talks and negotiations. War is never a solution. In fact, war leads to unintended consequences just like in Iraq and Syria,”
Agreeing to the interview to discuss the repercussions of an instable Afghanistan for Pakistan, particularly in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where PTI is in power, Khan said the Afghan Taliban is now in a stronger position to negotiate with all stakeholders in the peace process since US withdrawal is inevitable.
“Now, when they (Taliban) think the Americans are leaving they are now obviously pushing for a much harder bargain. They are not willing to accept the terms they would have accepted then,” Khan told VOA.
Afghan Taliban demand prisoner release to rejoin peace talks
The PTI chief also claimed some representatives of the Afghan Taliban had approached him a few years ago to help open peace negotiations with the then Afghan government. However, the US approach of relying on military might to defeat the insurgency discouraged the Taliban from seeking political reconciliation.
“Now you see the emergence of ISIS or Daesh (the Arabic acronym for Islamic State), and God knows where this is going to go. This is a direct result of that insane US invasion of Iraq," said Khan.
When asked about the recently launched four-nation peace process, involving Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States, Imran said it is was a ‘positive’ step.
“We hope and we pray that there is some sort of peace deal, some sort of a power sharing agreement and then the Americans leave," he said.
Precondition for peace talks: Afghan Taliban want removal from UN blacklist
Earlier, US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), reported that the Taliban now controls more territory than at any time since 2001, while approximately 72 percent of the country’s districts are under Afghan government control or influence.
The four-way contact group held two meetings last month in Islamabad and Kabul respectively while the next meeting is due in Islamabad on Saturday.
This article originally appeared on the Voice of America.