PM says peaceful Afghanistan beneficial for Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that a peaceful Afghanistan will be beneficial for Pakistan, opening up possibilities for trade and development projects.
In a recent interview with Newsweek, PM Khan said that following the US withdrawal, Afghanistan faced a difficult transition from the past 20 years of a US-NATO supported governance structure. “The Taliban appear to have gained control over the entire country, for the first time in 40 years. There is, therefore, a hope that security can be established throughout Afghanistan.”
The PM said the US had divested a liability—its costly military intervention—which, as the U.S. President has himself admitted, was not a strategic priority for the US. He said both Pakistan and the US needed to prevent terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. To this end, he added, we should cooperate to help stabilizing Afghanistan by addressing the humanitarian crisis.
Khan said if China offered economic support to Afghanistan, it's natural that the Afghans would accept it. The Taliban have welcomed the prospects of being incorporated in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and establishing close relations with China, he further said, adding that the US too could play an important and positive role in Afghanistan by providing humanitarian assistance, contributing to Afghanistan's recovery and reconstruction, and cooperating in containing terrorism from Afghanistan. During the Doha peace process, the US established a working relationship with the Taliban. There was direct cooperation between the US and the Taliban during the evacuation process.
Imran Khan said the Taliban had established an "acting government" and would no doubt announce a more permanent governance structure later. Pakistan is obliged to engage with the de-facto authorities in Afghanistan to prevent an economic and humanitarian collapse in this neighboring country and the resurgence of terrorism, he said.
The PM said there was indeed a plethora of terrorist groups which, taking advantage of the conflict in Afghanistan, located themselves in that country. Pakistan is extremely concerned about the threat of terrorism from Afghanistan, particularly from the TTP, which has conducted thousands of attacks against Pakistan from the territory of Afghanistan with the sponsorship and support of certain hostile intelligence agencies, he said.
“The TTP has also been responsible for most of its attacks on Chinese citizens working in Pakistan, perhaps with the support of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM). Pakistan will work with the authorities in Afghanistan to halt TTP and other terrorism from Afghanistan,” he said.
“Pakistan desires to promote a comprehensive, not selective, approach to neutralizing terrorists' threats from Afghanistan. We will cooperate with the international community, including the US, in this effort, the PM said.
“We understand that the US military support to India is designed to contain China. Pakistan has its own views on the credibility of this strategy. In our view, India will never confront China, especially not to serve US strategic objectives. India's purpose in arming itself so massively is to establish its hegemony in South Asia and specially to threaten and coerce Pakistan,” Imran said and added that 70 percent of Indian military capabilities were deployed against Pakistan, not China. Therefore, Pakistan has legitimate concerns about the provision of the most advanced weapons and technology to India. Apart from increasing the likelihood of a conflict, an arms race in South Asia will divert both India and Pakistan from investing in socio-economic development and the welfare of their people, the explained.
Commenting on Sino-Pak relationship, Imran Khan said Pakistan's relationship with China was 70 years old. It covers economic, technological, military and other sectors. Throughout this time, Pakistan has simultaneously maintained a close relationship with the US as well. Indeed, it was Pakistan which first brought the US and China closer in 1971. We see no reason for our strategic partnership with China to erode our ability to continue a cooperative relationship with the US, he said and added, “We believe the current US-China rivalry is unnecessary and contrary to the interests of both these global powers. Cooperation between them would be beneficial to both and is essential to address the myriad global problems we face—the COVID pandemic, the economic crisis in the developing world and the existential threat of climate change. We hope both Beijing and Washington will reach the same conclusion in the near future.”
“We attach importance to the SCO as a regional organization grouping the countries in the Asian heartland. At the SCO Summit, I presented Pakistan's viewpoint about the situation and presented the possible way out to address the challenges posed to the region due to the current situation in Afghanistan.”
If India adopts a positive position in relations with Pakistan, the SCO could serve as a useful platform to promote stability and prosperity across this vast area of the Asian Continent.
The PM said China had already invested around 25 billion dollars under the umbrella of the CPEC. Additional projects worth 20 billion are under implementation. Projects worth a further 25 billion dollars are in the pipeline. The COVID-19 pandemic may have slowed the implementation of some projects. However, the CPEC's objectives are being achieved on schedule, and their implementation will be accelerated in the future, he said.
Al-Qaeda, the organization responsible for 9/11, has been decimated in Afghanistan, largely due to Pakistan-US counter terrorism cooperation over the past 20 years, he was of the view.
However, the root causes of terrorism have not been addressed so far, he said and added that as a result, the ideology and narrative of terrorist groups had proliferated across several regions of the world. In addition, anti-Muslim extremist movements and terrorist groups have emerged in several parts of the world, he said. “We see the strongest manifestation of Islamophobia in India's extremist Hindutva ideology, which has unleashed state-sponsored terrorism against the Muslims of occupied Jammu and Kashmir and Indian Muslims.”