Unfair to pin blame of US setbacks in Afghanistan on Pakistan: PM Imran

I strongly felt that Pakistan should have been neutral, says premier


News Desk September 12, 2019
PM Imran Khan. PHOTO: PTI

Prime Minister Imran Khan, highlighting the loss of lives and the damage to the national economy, said that it is unfair to blame Islamabad for the setbacks suffered by Washington in Afghanistan.

In an exclusive interview to Russia Today, the premier dwelled on the damage the country suffered when it decided to side with the US post 9/11.

“Had we not participated in the American war after 9/11, we would not have been the world’s most dangerous country,” said the premier.

Reiterating his stance against the US invasion of Afghanistan, the prime minister reminisced that the Afghan Mujahideen had been trained to fight by Pakistan with funding coming by America's Central Investigation Agency (CIA) in the 1980s when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan.

“A decade later when the Americans come into Afghanistan, the same groups in Pakistan are supposed to say that now because the Americans are there, it is not longer Jihad – it is terrorism,” he said while underscoring the contradiction in rhetoric.

“I strongly felt that Pakistan should have been neutral,” he continued. “Because by joining in [Afghan war], these groups turned against us.”

The prime minister added that the country lost 70,000 lives and suffered a loss of over $100 billion to the economy. “And in the end, we were blamed for the Americans not succeeding in Afghanistan,” he noted. “I felt it was very unfair to Pakistan.”

The complete interview will be aired tomorrow by the Russian TV channel.

Afghan peace talks collapse a 'diplomatic test' for Pakistan

Earlier this week, US President Donald Trump announced to pull out of the Pakistan-brokered talks with the Afghan Taliban jeopardizing the prospects of peace in Afghanistan.

The sudden move throws a new challenge for Islamabad at a time when its hands are already full dealing with other foreign policy issues.

In its official reaction to the sudden US move, the Foreign Office called on all sides for restraint and reminded them of the commitment to pursue peace.

“Pakistan has been facilitating the peace and reconciliation process in good faith and as a shared responsibility, and has encouraged all sides to remain engaged with sincerity and patience.”

Officials who deal with the foreign policy told The Express Tribune that Pakistan knew that the road to peace would be bumpy but never expected talks to breakdown when a peace accord was about to be signed by the US and the Taliban.

Islamabad is now worried over the sudden breakdown in talks because it fears that the new situation may put more pressure on Pakistan to do more to convince the Taliban for a ceasefire.

President Trump, although cancelled the peace talks and a would-be secret meeting with the Taliban at Camp David over the killing of an American soldier in Thursday’s attack in Kabul, there is a feeling in Pakistan that there might be other reasons that compelled the US to take the drastic step.

Even analysts and commentators in the US are questioning if the killing of a soldier was the actual reason. They say if that was the case the US should not have entered into talks with the Taliban in the first place since this year alone 16 US servicemen were killed by the insurgents.

One possible reason behind Trump’s last-minute decision may be to persuade the Taliban to agree to a permanent ceasefire, something the group has long resisted.

If that was the actual reason, this may bring Pakistan’s role in the spotlight once again as the Trump administration is likely to ask Islamabad to play its role.

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