Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the international community to engage and accept the Taliban government in Afghanistan.
“Today, we want to promote economic cooperation in the region, and peace in Afghanistan is key to achieve that,” the premier said in an interview to Middle East Eye’s David Hearst and Peter Oborne Monday.
Afghanistan has suffered tremendously at the hands of the 20-year war, he said, isolating it at this crucial time will descend the country back into chaos.
Once that happens, Afghanistan will become a breeding ground for terrorist organisations such as ISIS. “Taliban are the best bet to take on Daesh,” PM Imran Khan asserted.
He added that another outcome of isolating Afghanistan will be a massive humanitarian crisis. “If they are left like this, my worry is that [Afghanistan] could revert back to 1989 when the Soviets and Americans left.” More than 200,000 Afghans died in that chaos.
Talking about Pakistan’s opinion of the US withdrawal, the prime minister said that “we were expecting a blood bath in the neighbouring country”, but thankfully that didn’t happen.
“It was a peaceful transfer of power.”
He hoped that the new government will work on an inclusive setup in the future. On the issue of education for women, the premier reasoned that the Taliban has promised to allow women to work and get educated.
Reconciliation with TTP
Pakistan has been holding reconciliatory talks with elements within the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan from a position of strength, the prime minister said.
“I have always believed that insurgencies eventually end up on the dialogue table like the Irish Republican Army,” the premier said. “We now have to talk to those we can reconcile with and persuade to give up their arms and live as a normal citizen.”
Unlike the previous government, the Afghan Taliban have assured that the country’s soil won’t be used for terrorism again.
Talks with President Biden
PM Imran Khan added that he has yet not talked to US President Joe Biden. “Our security chiefs have spoken. Our foreign minister has been in touch with the US foreign secretary. But no, we haven’t spoken, but we are in touch.”
Well, you know, it’s up to him. It’s a superpower, he said.
When he was whether Pakistan will allow US bases in the country for counter-action against ISIS, PM Imran said: “I think they don’t need a base here because we don’t want to be a part of conflict again.”
He added that no country had paid as heavy a price as Pakistan by joining the US-led war on terror, but was always made a scapegoat. He recalled that Pakistan has suffered immensely during the War on Terror. More than 80,000 lives were lost and the economy was left in shambles.