Prime Minister Imran Khan, while speaking with CNN journalist Becky Anderson, said the best way forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan is to engage with the Taliban and incentivise them on issues such as women’s rights and inclusive government.
“The Taliban hold all of Afghanistan and if they can sort of now work towards an inclusive government, get all the factions together, Afghanistan could have peace after 40 years. But if it goes wrong and which is what we are really worried about, it could go to chaos. The biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem,” Khan said.
“No puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people,” he said. “So rather than sitting here and thinking that we can control them, we should incentivise them. Because Afghanistan, this current government, clearly feels that without international aid and help, they will not be able to stop this crisis. So we should push them in the right direction.”
“Our intelligence agencies told us that the Taliban would not be able to take over all of Afghanistan, and if they tried to take Afghanistan militarily, there would be a protracted civil war, which is what we were scared of because we are the ones who would suffer the most,” Khan said. Now, he said, the world should “give them time” to form a legitimate government and make good on their promises.
PM Khan commenting on women’s rights in Afghanistan said, “I feel very strongly that it is a mistake to think that someone from the outside will give Afghan women their rights [because] Afghan women are strong. Give them time, and they will get their rights.”
“Women should have the ability in society to fulfil their potential in life [but] you cannot impose women’s rights in Afghanistan from abroad,” said Khan.
When questioned about the decision of the United States (US) and NATO forces to withdraw from Afghanistan, PM Khan said that the “US should have attempted a political settlement with the Taliban from a position of strength.”
“Just because we sided with the US, we became an ally of the US after 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. The suffering this country went through with at one point there were 50 militant groups attacking our government … on top of it, they must also know there were 480 drone attacks by the US in Pakistan,” he said.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US would reassess its ties with Pakistan following the withdrawal. He told Congress during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests some that are in conflict with ours”.
“It is one that is involved hedging its bets constantly about the future of Afghanistan, it’s one that’s involved harbouring members of the Taliban … It is one that’s also involved in different points cooperation with us on counterterrorism,” Blinken said, Reuters reported.
Khan called such comments “ignorant”, telling CNN: “I have never heard such ignorance.”
“I cannot destroy my country to fight someone else’s war,” he said. “My responsibility would have been to the people of my country.”
PM Khan also said that he hasn’t met President Joe Biden after the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
“He did not call as he is a busy man, but our relationship with the US is not just dependent on a phone call, it needs to be a multidimensional relationship,” remarked Khan.