- Says by the time the US realised that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, their bargaining power had gone
- Pakistan cannot bear the burden of Afghan refugees anymore, adds prime minister
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that political reconciliation is the only solution to the Afghan conflict as the United States failed to seek a military solution to the issue.
In an interview aired on PBS NewsHour, Imran said Pakistan desires peace in the region and cannot become part of the dispute. He said that there is no military solution to the Afghan issue. "I think the US has really messed it up in Afghanistan," he remarked.
The premier stated that by the time the US realised that there is no military solution in Afghanistan, unfortunately, the bargaining power of the Americans or the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) forces had gone.
He maintained that the US should have opted for a political settlement much earlier, when there were as many as 150,000 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," he regretted.
"The only good outcome for Afghanistan is that if there is a political settlement which is inclusive, so they form some sort of a government that includes all sorts of different factions there," he said.
"The worst situation in Afghanistan would be if there's a civil war and a protracted civil war. And from Pakistan's point of view, that is the worst-case scenario, because we then face a refugee problem," the PM added.
He said Pakistan is hosting over three million Afghan refugees.
"And what we fear is that a protracted civil war would lead to more refugees. Our economic situation is not such that we can have another influx."
Imran pointed out the government cannot bear the burden of Afghan refugees anymore as it has made hectic efforts to revive the national economy.
"The other worry is that the civil war will flow into Pakistan."
He highlighted that Pakistan played a key role as facilitator to bring the Taliban and the United States to the negotiating table.
He said in case of unrest and anarchy in Afghanistan, it will directly affect Pakistan and it will have to face multiple problems.
He added Pakistan has constructed fencing along the 1,500-kilometre long border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
In response to a query, the PM said that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani should have delayed the elections, as it would have provided an opportunity to Taliban to participate in the political process.
To another question, Imran said that Pakistan had nothing to do with the terrorist act in New York.
He said, "There were no militant Taliban in Pakistan. No Pakistani was involved.
"When the Pakistani government decided to join the US's war on terror, this country was devastated as 70,000 Pakistanis died in that war, which we had nothing to do with. Our economy lost over $150 billion."
Imran dismissed recent statements by the Afghanistan government that claim Taliban have crossed into Pakistan in search of safe-havens.
"This is absolute nonsense," he said.
"Why don't they give us evidence of this? Firstly, let me just go back. When they say that Pakistan gave safe havens, sanctuaries to Taliban, where are these safe havens? When we said there are three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan, who are, by the way, the same ethnic group as the Taliban, Pashtuns, now there are camps of 500,000 people.
"There are camps of 100,000 people. And Taliban are not some military outfit. They are normal civilians. And if there are some civilians in these camps, how is Pakistan supposed to hunt these people down? How can you call them sanctuaries?
"The US says that we paid you, we gave you aid, and that's why you were fighting this so-called war on terror," he stated.
"Pakistan, on the other hand, felt that here was a country which had no need to be part of this war. It loses 70,000 people. I mean, where — which other country has lost 70,000 people fighting for someone else's war?"
Anyone who commits rape is responsible
Regarding his remarks on rape, PM Imran said:
“Anyone who commits rape, solely and solely, that person is responsible. So let's be clear about that. No matter how provocative the woman is or whatever she wears, the person who commits rape is fully responsible. Never is the victim responsible.
“More than rape, there are child abuse [cases] which are going through the roof, so my comments were in that context,” said PM Khan.
The premier stated that he used the word "Pardah" (veil), adding that the word does not just mean clothes or is restricted to women only. He said that "Pardah" is also for men and means to “bring down temptation in a society”.
“Never would I say such a stupid thing where a person who is raped is somehow responsible. It is always the rapist that is responsible,” said PM Khan.
"Islam gives dignity [and] respect to women,” the PM said. He added that after traveling all over the world, he found that in Muslim countries, women are treated with more respect.
“In Pakistan, even in other Muslim countries I have seen, women [are] treated with far more respect and given more dignity,” said PM Khan.