Imran urges world to incentivize Taliban on issues like women rights
Prime Minister Imran Khan in an interview to CNN urged the international community to give some time and incentive to Taliban on issues like government making and women’s rights.
American television got the interview at the PM’s resident in Bani Gala, in Islamabad on Wednesday. The CNN’s Becky Anderson interviewed him.
Khan said the world should give them time to form their legitimate government in Afghanistan and fulfil the promises.
"The Taliban hold all of Afghanistan and if they can sort of now work towards an inclusive government, get all the factions together, Afghanistan could have peace after 40 years. But if it goes wrong and which is what we are really worried about, it could go to chaos. The biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem," Khan said.
Khan claimed that the Taliban are looking for international aid to avoid a crisis, which could be used to push the group in "the right direction towards legitimacy." However, he warned that Afghanistan could not be controlled by outside forces.
"No puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people," he said. "So rather than sitting here and thinking that we can control them, we should incentivize them. Because Afghanistan, this current government, clearly feels that without international aid and help, they will not be able to stop this crisis. So we should push them in the right direction."
To critics who say the Taliban will destabilize the country, Khan pointed to the withdrawal of the Soviets in 1989, which resulted in a "bloodbath." Khan said he was expecting a similar bloodbath to happen after the US forces left.
"Our intelligence agencies told us that the Taliban would not be able to take over all of Afghanistan, and if they tried to take Afghanistan militarily, there would be a protracted civil war, which is what we were scared of because we are the ones who would suffer the most," Khan said. Now, he said, the world should "give them time" to form a legitimate government and make good on their promises.
Women in government
On the issue of women’s rights issue, he said, "It's a mistake to think that someone from outside will give Afghan women rights. Afghan women are strong. Give them time. They will get their rights".
"Women should have the ability in a society to fulfill their potential in life," said Khan. "In Pakistan, what we have done is we have actually paid stipends to poor families to get the girls to study in school because we feel that if the girls, if the girl child studies, if they have education, they will get their own rights," he said.
The PM said he has not spoken with US President Joe Biden since the Taliban takeover, despite Pakistan being a major non-NATO ally.
"I would imagine he's very busy, but our relationship with the US is not just dependent on a phone call, it needs to be a multidimensional relationship," said Khan.
"We (Pakistan) were like a hired gun," Khan said. "We were supposed to make them (the US) win the war in Afghanistan, which we never could."
Khan said he repeatedly warned US officials that America could not achieve its objectives militarily, and would "be stuck there." He said the US should have attempted a political settlement with the Taliban from a "position of strength," at the height of its presence in Afghanistan, not as it was withdrawing.
According to Khan, thousands of Pakistanis lost their lives in terrorist attacks by militant groups owing to his country's support for the US. "Just because we sided with the US, we became an ally of the US after 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. The suffering this country went through with at one point there were 50 militant groups attacking our government... on top of it, they must also know there were 480 drone attacks by the US in Pakistan," he added.
"Only time a country has been attacked by its ally," he said of the US strikes.
The US has repeatedly accused Pakistan of harbouring terrorists and given them safe haven, a claim Khan denies.
"What are these safe havens?" Khan asked. "The area of Pakistan along the border of Afghanistan had the heaviest surveillance by the United States drones ... surely they would have known if there were any safe havens?"
By not standing up to the US, previous Pakistani heads of state opened themselves up to accusations of collaboration, Khan said.
"The question is, was Pakistan in a position to take military action against the Afghan Taliban when it was already being attacked from inside, from the Pakistani Taliban who were attacking the state of Pakistan?" he said.
Khan said he "cannot destroy my country to do a fight someone else's war."
"The Afghan Taliban weren't attacking us. I wish if I was in government. I would have told the US that we are not going to take them on militarily because first, we have to serve the people. My responsibility would have been to the people of my country," Khan said.