'US Blaming Pakistan For Its Flawed Strategy in Afghanistan', Says PM Imran Khan
© REUTERS / MOHAMMAD ISMAILFILE PHOTO: Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a joint news conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace in Kabul
© REUTERS / MOHAMMAD ISMAIL
Pakistan has been accused by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani of failing to prevent foreign terrorists from sneaking into Afghanistan and not doing enough to pressure the Taliban* to join peace talks. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has maintained that "no country had tried harder to get the Taliban to the dialogue table than Pakistan".
Prime Minister Imran Khan has slammed the US for making a scapegoat of Pakistan for its own failures in Afghanistan.
Khan made a scathing attack on the US while talking to a delegation of journalists from Afghanistan who were on a visit to Pakistan under a programme organised by the Pak-Afghan Youth Forum in Islamabad.
"The reason why 150,000 NATO troops, the greatest military machine in the history of mankind, did not succeed in Afghanistan has got nothing to do with Pakistan. This is exactly what the Americans did in Vietnam - when they failed in Vietnam they blamed some insurgents from Cambodia, Laos and they actually bombed Cambodia and completely de-stabilised the country. But it still didn't make any difference", Khan added.
Replying to queries if the US will be allowed to use Pakistani soil for its operations in Afghanistan, the PM said, "My question is -- what will the Americans achieve operating from Pakistan that they could not achieve after 20 years of operating from Afghanistan? All it will do is involve Pakistan in a conflict which Pakistan has nothing to do with. We have lost 70,000 Pakistani people and 150 billion US dollars while fighting the US War on Terror. We see absolutely no reason for the US to operate from within Pakistan".
Khan was also asked as to why Pakistan is not initiating action against pro-Taliban forces within the country.
"We have consistently asked the Afghanistan government to tell us where the Taliban in Pakistan are supposed to be. There were drone attacks in the tribal areas, [the[ Americans were killing people through drones", he responded.
America's Strategy 'Flawed', Should Have Negotiated from 'Position of Strength'
Defending Pakistan for doing "everything that could have been done" to achieve peace in Afghanistan, Imran Khan blamed America's strategy for its failure in Afghanistan.
"At one point of time we were told that the Taliban's main sanctuaries were in Waziristan. They kept pushing us that we should take action in North Waziristan. Finally after 4 or 5 years Pakistan actually took action in Waziristan. One million people were internally displaced while many Pakistani soldiers lost their lives. But it made no difference at all. It's not that suddenly the NATO troops won the war in Afghanistan - nothing like that happened", he said.
Criticising America, Khan said that Washington should have spoken to the Taliban from a "position of strength".
"Surely the Americans should have started negotiations with the Taliban from a position of strength when there were 150,000 NATO troops on the ground. That was the time to talk to the Taliban. Talking to them now when there is an exit date given and a few thousand troops left on the ground, how do they expect that the Taliban will now compromise", Khan wondered.
'Account of Afghan Ambassador's Daughter Does Not Tally With Evidence'
Imran Khan cast aspersions on the account given by Silsila Alikhil, daughter of Afghanistan's Ambassador Najibullah Alikhil, who was reportedly kidnapped while riding a taxi in Islamabad on 18 July. Afghanisstan's Foreign Ministry alleged that the diplomat's daughter had been kidnapped and held for several hours during which she was "severely tortured by unknown persons".
After investigations into the case, Pakistan's Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid cast doubt on the story, saying "there is no case of kidnapping".
On Thursday, Imran Khan, too, reiterated that the evidence collected by the Pakistani police does not tally with the account given by the ambassador's daughter.
"We have detailed now through the safe city cameras, chartered out the exact path taken by the daughter of the ambassador. The taxi driver has been interrogated about whose taxi the daughter took. Unfortunately, the information gathered does not tally with the account of the ambassador's daughter. Cameras show, whereas she says she was put in a taxi and driven away and beaten up, but in the camera clips she is fine. There is a discrepancy here", he said.
Meanwhile, violence has escalated in Afghanistan, with Afghan forces waging a battle against Taliban insurgents even as foreign troops are in the process of leaving the country. The Taliban has claimed to have seized large swathes of land, including key border crossings. The United Nations has since deemed the situation in the country concerning, with a UN report suggesting that nearly 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed or injured in May and June as fighting intensified.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia.