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Watch: PM Imran Khan speaks to ‘Middle East Eye’


ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has called on the world to refrain from pushing away the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan, adding that it would send the country back a couple of decades. 

“Events in Afghanistan are still evolving, people like us still don’t know where it will go,” he said. “The US vacating the region will create a vacuum,” he acknowledged. 

The prime minister said Afghanistan is a trade corridor that connects Pakistan to the Central Asian countries. “And so, it is a very important country that way,” he said. 

“It should not be a ‘US vs China’ camp. Now, it should be about economic ties, economic connectivity. That’s what we are looking for,” he added. 

PM Imran Khan said the Taliban had people among its leadership who had given a lot of sacrifices in blood. These people, he said, would now want to be a part of the government. 

“And yet the government [in Afghanistan] is looking for international acceptability,” he explained. “So it wants an inclusive government. It talks about human rights and not wanting its soil to be used for terrorism.”

PM Imran Khan said it is a “critical point in Afghanistan” and called on the world to engage with the country. 

PM Imran Khan says he hasn’t spoken to Biden yet

The prime minister spoke about US President Joe Biden, saying that he is yet to speak to arguably the most powerful person in the world. 

The premier spoke about his visit to the US back in 2008, adding that he had spoken to Biden, John Kerry and Harry Reid – then all senators – warning them that they were creating a problem for themselves in war-torn Afghanistan. 

Khan said he had warned the three that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, however, he added that they did not listen to him. 

He said a couple of years later, then Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, delivered the same message to US President Barack Obama.

“But unfortunately, they were led by their generals. And do you know what generals always say: give us more troops and more time,” he added. 

Pakistan expected a bloodbath in Afghanistan, says PM Imran Khan 

When asked about the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the cricketer-turned-politician said Islamabad was “relieved” as it expected a bloodbath when the Taliban were about to take over the capital a couple of months ago. 

“We have been so relieved because we expected a bloodbath but what happened was a peaceful transfer of power. But we also felt we were blamed for this,” he noted. 

The prime minister said the Afghanistan Army, numbering around 300,000 troops, had surrendered without a fight to the Taliban. “So clearly we did not tell them to surrender.”

When asked whether the Taliban had formed an inclusive government in the country, Khan admitted it was not one. However, he said the current Afghan government, as per the Taliban itself, was a transitionary one. 

He said Pakistan was working with regional countries, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, who had more sizable ethnic populations, to ensure the Taliban agreed to a more diverse representation in its government. 

More to come

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