Afghan quagmire: Don’t hang it all on us: PM

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Staff Report

Islamabad

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that Pakistan ‘unfairly’ blamed for US failures in Afghanistan.

In an exclusive interview with Russian international television network ‘RT’, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan suffered great losses when it joined Washington’s war on terror, and in the end the US still pinned the blame on Pakistan for its own setbacks in Afghanistan.

Pakistan took a serious hit after joining the US-led global campaign against terrorism, Khan revealed. Before that, Islamabad had been training the Islamist Mujahedeen fighters, who were “funded by the American CIA” to wage war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. But as it was the US’ turn to invade Afghanistan, “these groups turned against us,” he stated.

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

“We lost 70,000 people. We lost over $100 billion [from] the economy. And in the end, we were blamed for the Americans not succeeding in Afghanistan. I felt it was very unfair to Pakistan.”

PM Imran’s statement comes days after US President Donald Trump called off peace negotiations with the Taliban that his special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad had been carrying on for almost a year, after the Taliban claimed responsibility for killing 12 people, including a US soldier, in an attack in Kabul.

Trump’s remark to reporters at the White House suggested he sees no point in resuming a nearly yearlong effort to reach a political settlement with the Taliban, whose protection of al-Qaida extremists in Afghanistan prompted the US to invade after the 9/11 attacks.

Asked about the peace talks, Trump said: “They’re dead. They’re dead. As far as I’m concerned, they’re dead.”

On Thursday Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Security Council Maleeha Lodhi while assuring of Pakistan’s role as a facilitator of the Afghan peace process said “We hope the suspension of the peace talks is only a pause and will resume sooner rather than later as the alternative is a surge in violence, which could push Afghanistan into even more turbulent and uncertain phase than has been witnessed so far”.

Speaking in a debate on the situation in Afghanistan, she said Pakistan had always condemned violence and called for all sides to exercise restraint and to remain committed to the peace process out of its belief that there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict.

The Pakistani envoy said that nine rounds of direct talks between the United States and the Taliban had brightened prospects to put in place the first significant foundation of a settlement, raising hope that the parties appeared closer to that goal than at any other time in the past 18 year.

In her speech, Ambassador Lodhi said the recent setback should not dampen hopes and the resolve to persist in the endeavour.

“We urge both sides to re-engage, and look forward to an early resumption of talks,” Ambassador Lodhi added.

“Apart from Afghanistan itself, there is no country that has suffered more than Pakistan from the four decades of war and foreign interventions in Afghanistan,” she said.