Former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, while speaking on Microsoft/National Broadcasting Company (MSNBC) political talk show ‘The Mehdi Hasan Show’, said, “1996 and 2021 Pakistan are very different…Please do not judge the Pakistan of 2021 by the role that Pakistan played in 1996.”

Mehdi, referring to remarks of Prime Minister Imran Khan, said, “PM Khan is right, there is no military solution but do you [Hina Rabbani] think Pakistan is going to help broker the sort of political outcome he talked about. Given your country’s historical role in aiding the Afghan Taliban, providing a safe haven for them on Pakistani soil.”

“Providing safe haven is very different than not doing kinetic action against a group which seek refuge like millions of other Afghans in Pakistan’s territory,” replied Khar.


“For a country or a state to choose to go after those who were attacking our own children and policemen and our own soldiers which happened to be Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and many other extremist organisations. So please don’t forget that Pakistan has had an influx of extremist organisations within its own territory that Pakistan had to deal with,” said Khar.

Khar further added, “For the world to expect to that we would leave all of that and concentrate and go for a full blast military action against the Afghan Taliban clearly did not happen, was not likely to happen. So as far as our responsibility is concerned and our ability to engineer a behavioral change in the Taliban is concerned, I think that is an exaggerated role and has been an exaggerated role — if not the last few decades, at least for the last few years.”

“TTP, which has butchered our children continues to have links with the Tehrik-e-Taliban Afghanistan (TTA). Now if Pakistan had the type of leverage that the world expects of Pakistan, wouldn’t Pakistan first ensure that TTA and TTP were able to de-link. And TTP was to receive no support from TTA. Pakistan is unable to broker that for itself, do you think Pakistan was able to broker a solution when the United States (US) itself and of course Pakistan encourage whatever role it could possibly,” added Khar.

Mehdi questioned Khar that Pakistan has strategic geopolitical reasons and supported the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan. “Are you telling me that you as foreign minister had no knowledge of anyone in your defence establishment, your Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), nobody had contacts with the Afghan Taliban?”

“For the 20 years that US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) partners were in Afghanistan, I don’t know a single year where the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) did not have contact with the Afghan Taliban. This is what intelligence agencies do. They maintain those contacts to have intelligence and to protect their sovereign territorial boundaries,” said Khar.

“The leverage that is expected of Pakistan, Pakistan never had,” added Khar talking about negotiations. “Once a date of exit has been given to the people what leverage can anyone have. What leverage can a country like Pakistan with eight billion dollars in defence spending as opposed to the United States, which has 778 billion dollars of defence spending? Do you expect too much?”

The anchorperson reiterated that Pakistan needs to take some responsibility for its role in Afghanistan referring to the remarks made by Husain Haqqani for Ambassador to the US and no one was denying what the CIA and United States had done in the region.

“Pakistan has taken more than its share of the responsibility in the last many many years,” replied Khar.

Replying to the comments of Haqqani, Khar said, ” If Mr Husain Haqqani was not living in the US and was living in Pakistan, he would know that the Pakistan of 1996 and 2021 are very different. Pakistan has made many mistakes but I am proud to say that Pakistan is perhaps one of the few countries left which has learnt the right lessons of history.”

“I feel Pakistan is getting out the black and getting into to the white or grey area, many countries are actually receding right now. We are very willing to accept the mistakes we made in the past but what we are saying is please do not judge the Pakistan of 2021 by the role that Pakistan played in 1996,” stressed Khar.