Pakistan useful for US only to clean up Afghanistan mess: PM Imran

Says Taliban won't talk to Afghan govt until Ashraf Ghani remains president

By: News Desk
Published: 03:50 PM, 12 Aug, 2021
Pakistan useful for US only to clean up Afghanistan mess: PM Imran
Caption: File photo.
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Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the United States of seeing his country as useful only in the context of the “mess” it is leaving behind in Afghanistan after 20 years of fighting.

Washington has been pressing Pakistan to use its influence over the Taliban to broker an elusive peace deal as negotiations between the fighters and the Afghan government have stalled, and violence in Afghanistan has escalated sharply.

Talking to foreign journalists in Islamabad, Imran Khan said “Pakistan is just considered only to be useful in the context of somehow settling this mess which has been left behind after 20 years of trying to find a military solution when there was not one.”

The US will pull out its military by August 31, 20 years after toppling the Taliban government in 2001. But as the US leaves, the Taliban today controls more territory than at any point since then. Kabul and several Western governments say Pakistan’s support for the armed group allowed it to weather the war.

Imran Khan said Islamabad was not taking sides in Afghanistan. “I think that the Americans have decided that India is their strategic partner now, and I think that’s why there’s a different way of treating Pakistan now,” he elaborated.

A political settlement in Afghanistan was looking difficult under current conditions, Imran Khan added.

He said he tried to persuade Taliban leaders when they were visiting Pakistan to reach a settlement. “The condition is that as long as Ashraf Ghani is there, we (Taliban) are not going to talk to the Afghan government,” Imran Khan said, quoting the Taliban leaders as telling him.

He said Pakistan had “made it very clear” that it does not want any American military bases in Pakistan after US forces exit Afghanistan.

To a question, Imran Khan said that the Taliban won’t return to the negotiation table for a political settlement as long as Ashraf Ghani remains the president of Afghanistan. "The condition is that as long as Ashraf Ghani is there, we (Taliban) are not going to talk to the Afghan government," he added.