Pakistan's foreign minister has denied that his country's military intelligence helped the Taliban force the US out of Afghanistan after 20 years.
Lotfullah Najafizada, of Afghanistan's Tolo News, questioned Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on the Afghan peace process and its ramifications, especially for Washington, in an interview broadcast on Saturday.
Najafizada quoted the late Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, General Hamid Gul, who said: "The ISI, with the help of America, defeated America".
ISI allegedly helped channel US aid to Mujahideen guerrillas fighting a Soviet-allied Afghan government from 1979 to 1992, and later supported the Taliban's rise to power over other squabbling Mujahideen warlords in the war-torn country. The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, less than a month after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, refusing to accept the Taliban's offer to extradite al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden to a majority-Muslim country for trial.
Qureshi tried to dismiss the quote as lacking context, but the interviewer reiterated that "America was defeated and ISI helped," adding that it was the Taliban that beat the US.
"He's no longer here," Qureshi suggested, but added: "The Americans came for a purpose, they feel that they've achieved that purpose... both administrations, the Republicans and the Trump administration, felt the time had come to leave, and the present administration, the Democrat party under President Biden."
"And you have an understanding with the US as they leave Afghanistan... that you can help them in case there are more threats coming from Afghanistan?" Najafizada asked.
"Do we need an understanding? It's their decision," Qureshi replied. "We are willing to help in pushing for the peace process" and "countering terrorism" — but he gave a flat "no" to the question of whether Pakistan would host US military, intelligence or drone bases.
"It is in Pakistan's enlightened interest that there is peace and stability in Afghanistan," Qureshi said. "We genuinely believe that you cannot have negotiations and violence go hand in hand."
The interviewer suggested that Pakistan was providing a safe haven to the guerrillas, saying: "They have a presence here, they have freedom of movement, they do recruitment here, fundraising, they go to Pakistani hospitals. Are these lies?"
"They are exaggerations," Qureshi answered.