Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that he isn’t waiting for anyone’s phone call while speaking about the controversy surrounding US President Joe Biden not calling him.
“I keep hearing how US President Joe Biden hasn’t called him and that’s his option. It’s his business who he wants to call or not. Not that I am waiting for any phone call, that’s his prerogative,” the premier said while interacting with journalists working for foreign media outlets on Thursday.
Earlier this week, The Financial Times reported that National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf complained about Biden’s failure to contact PM Khan as the US seeks Pakistan’s help in Afghanistan.
“The US president hasn’t spoken to the prime minister of such an important country who the US itself says is make-or-break in some cases, in some ways, in Afghanistan — we struggle to understand the signal, right?” Yusuf told The Financial Times in an interview in Washington.
The US troops have been in Afghanistan for 20 years. What will they do now that they haven’t in 20 years?
PM Imran Khan
Yusuf, however, later said that he never complained about President Joe Biden not calling Prime Minister Imran Khan. A call is not an issue at all, Biden may call PM Khan when he wants, he said.
‘Taliban refusing to talk to Ashraf Ghani’
The PM said that only a political settlement would stop Afghanistan from descending into anarchy.
When the Afghan Taliban were here they refused to talk to Ashraf Ghani, he said. “In 2019, when Pakistan persuaded the Taliban to talk to the Americans, I suggested that there should be an interim government so that the elections would be inclusive.”
The Afghan government was, unfortunately, very critical about bringing an interim setup. They held the elections after Ghani was re-elected and the Taliban were excluded, we knew there was going to be a problem. Taliban did not recognise him and elections as well and they refused to talk to him that is where the problem started and still is there.
“Now, the Afghan government is extremely critical about Pakistan and they think we have some magic powers that we will make the Taliban do whatever we want to do,” he said. “They don’t realise that the moment the Americans started withdrawing troops our leverage over the Taliban was diminished because they thought they had won the war.”
The Afghan govt is blaming Pakistan for what is happening there. They think we have supernatural powers and have the power to make them win. They are also trying to the Americans back in Afghanistan, persuading them to intervene.
The US has been there for 20 years. “What will it do now that it hasn’t in 20 years?”
Pakistan worried about Afghanistan’s future
PM Imran Khan remarked that Pakistan is worried because of the direct impact of this descending into a prolonged civil war. The situation may lead to a protracted civil war and our country will be most affected after Afghanistan.
Pakistan will expect more refugees and it’s possible that the Taliban will flow into Pashtun areas. In the last war, half of our tribal area people were internally displaced. “We already have three million documented refugees and 500,000 more who are probably unregistered. Our economy is just recovering and we don’t want another inflow of refugees.” The civil war may even threaten Pakistan’s plan to connect with Central Asia via Afghanistan.
Pakistan will hold talks with the government that has been elected or selected by the people of Afghanistan. “We have no favourites in Afghanistan, Pakistan will work with whoever.”
‘Ceasefire should be top priority’
The Pakistan PM said that a ceasefire should be the top priority of the Afghan government.
“I have said that I don’t believe in military solutions. We have to look for a political settlement,” he remarked. The Taliban and the Afghan government can meet on middle ground but what will that middle ground be? The Doha talks will decide that.
When asked about a Taliban takeover, he remarked that it depends on the type of takeover it is. If it’s inclusive then it can prove to be the best option for Afghanistan. “But if it’s exclusive, then it will lead to a civil war.”