ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has 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,” Khan said. A political settlement in Afghanistan was looking difficult under current conditions, Khan added.
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 insurgents and Afghan government have stalled, and violence in Afghanistan has escalated sharply.
“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,” Khan told foreign journalists at his home in Islamabad.
The United States will pull out its military by Aug. 31, 20 years after toppling the Taliban government in 2001. But, as the United States leaves, the Taliban today controls more territory than at any point since then.
Kabul and several Western governments say Pakistan’s support for the insurgent group allowed it to weather the war. The charge of supporting the Taliban despite being a US ally has long been a sore point between Washington and Islamabad. Pakistan denies supporting the Taliban.
US think Pakistan useful only to
clean up ‘mess’ in Afghanistan: Imran Khan
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,” Khan said, quoting the Taliban leaders as telling him.
Peace talks between the Taliban, who view Ghani and his government as US puppets, and a team of Kabul-nominated Afghan negotiators started last September but have made no substantive progress.
Representatives of a number of countries, including the United States, are currently in the Qatari capital of Doha talking to both sides in a last-ditch push for a cease-fire.
US forces have continued to use air strikes to support Afghan forces against Taliban advances, but it remains unclear if such support will continue after August 31. Imran Khan said Pakistan had “made it very clear” that it does not want any American military bases in Pakistan after US forces exit Afghanistan.
Talks with Turkish journalists
Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan will continue to make every effort to help advance the Afghan peace process and to realize a political solution.
He was talking to Turkish Minister for Defense who called on him in Islamabad today (Wednesday).
Imran Khan said Pakistan and Turkey enjoy historic fraternal ties marked by unique mutual trust and mutual support.
On regional issues, Prime Minister Imran Khan underlined that a negotiated political settlement was the only way forward. He expressed hope that the Afghan leaders would recognize the importance of international convergence on the way forward and achieve an inclusive, broad based and comprehensive political settlement.
The Prime Minister expressed deep concerns over the forest fires in Turkey and reaffirmed Pakistan s solidarity and readiness to extend all possible assistance to help cope with this calamity.
The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction at the existing level of bilateral defense cooperation. He thanked Turkey for Turkey s strong and consistent support to Pakistan on all issues particularly Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
The Turkish Minister for Defense reiterated Turkey s support to Pakistan on all issues including Jammu and Kashmir. He concurred with Prime Minister Imran Khan on enhancing cooperation in all areas to the mutual benefit of both the countries including in the defense field. He also underlined Turkey s efforts to promote a political solution in Afghanistan.