Friday September 17, 2021

PM fears: Pakistan may be sucked into Afghan civil war

The prime minister regretted that by the time the US realised that there was no military solution in Afghanistan, unfortunately, the bargaining power of the Americans or the Nato had gone.

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said a civil war in Afghanistan would be the worst-case scenario, because it will flow into Pakistan.

He said the United States really messed it up in Afghanistan, questioning their motive of Afghan invasion in the first place and then their subsequent bids to seek a political solution with Taliban from a position of weakness.

“When they finally decided that there is no military solution, unfortunately, the bargaining power of the US or Nato had gone. The Taliban thought they had won. Therefore, it is very difficult now to get them to compromise. It is very difficult to force them for a political solution,” he said in an interview on PBS NewsHour, an American news show.

Imran Khan criticised the US for trying in the past to look for a military solution in Afghanistan, when there never was one while people like him kept saying that there's no military solution who knows the history of Afghanistan. “We were called, people like me were called anti-American. I was called Taliban Khan”.

The prime minister regretted that by the time the US realised that there was no military solution in Afghanistan, unfortunately, the bargaining power of the Americans or the Nato had gone. He emphasised the US should have opted for a political settlement much earlier, when there were as many as 150,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan: But once they had reduced the troops to barely 10,000, and then, when they gave an exit date, the Taliban thought they had won. “And so, therefore, it was very difficult for now to get them to compromise.”

When asked if he had thought the Taliban resurgence was a positive development for Afghanistan, the prime minister reiterated that the only good outcome would be a political settlement, which is inclusive. “Obviously, Taliban will be part of that government and that the last thing we want is a civil war in Afghanistan,” he said, adding that the Taliban sitting down with the Ashraf Ghani government to form an inclusive government was the best choice.

He then described what he called the worst-case scenario as being one where Afghanistan descends into a civil war. “From Pakistan's point of view, that is the worst-case scenario, because we then … we face two scenarios, one a refugee problem and secondly the worry is that the civil war will flow into Pakistan,” he contended.

The prime minister explained, “Already Pakistan is hosting over three million Afghan refugees. And what we fear is that a protracted civil war would bring more refugees. And our economic situation is not such that we can have another influx.”

He expressed concerns that the fallout of a potential civil war across the border could flow into Pakistan and noted that the Taliban were ethnic Pashtuns and if this civil war and violence in Afghanistan goes on, the Pashtuns on our side will be drawn into it.

Replying to a question, he said that it was extremely unfair to allege Pakistan supported the Taliban. “I find this extremely unfair,” he pointed out, adding that 70,000 Pakistanis had died in the aftermath of the US war in Afghanistan, even when Pakistan had nothing to do with what happened on September 11, 2001.

At the time, he noted, al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan and there were no militant Taliban in Pakistan and that no Pakistani was involved in the attack on the World Trade Centre. Imran Khan regretted that the war in Afghanistan had resulted in a loss of $150 billion to Pakistan’s economy.

To a question, Imran Khan asked for evidence of where Afghan Taliban sanctuaries are located in Pakistan. “This 10,000 Taliban, or as the Afghan government says, Jihadi fighters have crossed over, is absolute nonsense. Why don’t they give us evidence of this?” asked Imran Khan.

To the question about the safe havens, PM Imran wondered where the sanctuaries are located in Pakistan. When questioned about his remarks on rape and dress code, he explained that anyone who commits rape, solely and solely, that person is responsible. “No matter whatever, how much ever a woman is provocative or whatever she wears, the person who commits rape, he is fully responsible. Never is the victim responsible,” he said.

The premier emphasised that he would never say such a stupid thing where a rape victim is somehow responsible for the crime committed against her. He also emphasised that his comments in the HBO interview in June were taken out of context, saying that he was simply talking about Pakistani society, where we are having a rise, a sharp rise in sex crimes. He said that he had specifically used the word pardah (veil), referring to his earlier remarks on rape. “We have to promote a culture of pardah to avoid temptation,” he had said.

Clarifying his position on the matter, he said, “I used the word pardah. In Islam, pardah does not mean just clothes. And pardah is not restricted to women only, but that is for men as well. It means bringing the temptation down in a society.”

Imran Khan said that Islam gave dignity and respect to women, adding that having travelled all over the world, he found that women were treated with more dignity and respect in Muslim countries.

“Look at the situation in Pakistan even now. I mean, look at the rape cases here. Compare it to the Western countries. They are minuscule compared to them. Yes, we have our issues … But, as far as a woman's dignity goes, … I can say, after going all over the world, this society gives more respect and dignity to women,” he contended.