ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said his country is neither responsible for Taliban actions in Afghanistan, nor is his government a spokesperson for the group.
Interacting with a delegation of Afghan journalists, aired on state-run Pakistan television on Thursday, the PM rejected any action against families of Taliban members living in the country. His government cannot put the families of Afghan Taliban into prison, he said.
“What the Taliban are doing or aren’t doing has nothing to do with us. You have to ask the Taliban about what they are doing; we are not responsible, neither are we spokespersons for the Taliban,” he said while referring to allegations made by Afghan officials against Pakistan for supporting the Taliban.
“But you (Afghans) have two choices: for 20 years, a military solution has been attempted to bring peace to Afghanistan and that’s failed. Now you have a choice, either with this American back military solution, you can continue because if you feel the Taliban are not someone you want to have as part of your government,” said the PM.
“The second solution is to have a government of political compromise between the Taliban and the government, an inclusive government (and) that’s the only solution,” the PM asserted.
Referring to his recent meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Uzbekistan, he said that he got the impression that Afghan government wanted to take military action against pro-Taliban people in Pakistan.
“We will do everything, but we will not use military force anymore in Pakistan,” he said, adding that his country has already lost over 70,000 people in “someone else’s war.”
Responding to a question regarding any expected action against Taliban families living in Pakistan, he said his government cannot take any action against children and women living in Afghan refugee camps inside Pakistan.
“They (Afghan government) talked about families of Afghan Taliban in Pakistan. The question is what should Pakistan do?
“Put their families in jail?” he questioned.
The PM also rejected any plan for a trilateral dialogue including India over Afghanistan and said his country has already cut off diplomatic ties with New Delhi after August 2019 actions in Kashmir.
“Until India restores Kashmir’s statehood, Pakistan will not have a trilateral dialogue with India over the issue of Afghanistan,” he concluded.
The PM regretted the accusatory statements that have recently emanated from Afghanistan against Pakistan. He said no country has tried as hard as Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the table of negotiations.
Imran Khan said Pakistan wants peace in Afghanistan to access the Central Asian countries. He said we have signed an agreement with Uzbekistan for a railway project through Afghanistan.
The Prime Minister said if there is a civil war in Afghanistan, it will almost spill over to Pakistan’s tribal areas. This is the last thing we want as Pakistan has already lost 70,000 people in the war on terrorism, he added. The PM said there are already three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and given our economic conditions, we cannot afford to have another influx of refugees. Imran Khan made it clear that Pakistan has no favourites in Afghanistan and not following the policy of strategic depth any more.
To a question, he said we have built 90pc fence along the border with Afghanistan at a huge cost to stop outflow and inflow into Pakistan. Ninety percent work has been completed on it, he added.
He said what the Taliban are doing has nothing to do with us. He said Pakistan is not responsible for their actions.
When asked about the future relationship with Afghanistan, PM expressed the confidence that once the situation calms down there, we will have the best of relationship. He said this relationship will get stronger with each passing year. He said both countries need each other and it will be a mutually beneficial relationship.
To a question, the PM said India took away the statehood of illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir through illegal steps of 5th August 2019. He said there are UN resolutions which accept the right of self-determination of Kashmiri people. He said we will not sit with India until it restores the statehood of the disputed territory.