ISLAMABAD: The United States made mistakes in Afghanistan during the War on Terror (WoT), but Pakistan had to bear the brunt of the situation, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday.
The prime minister’s comments came during his speech at the inaugural session of the annual Margalla Dialogue in Islamabad. The premier criticised the Western media and said that instead of giving Pakistan its due credit for the sacrifices it made, the country was accused of playing “a double game” and its reputation was maligned internationally.
“Pakistan was held responsible for the shortcomings of the United States,” said the premier.
The PM went on to say that throughout the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan had to witness the biggest collateral damage as it was the only US ally that suffered more than 80,000 casualties, displacement of millions of people, and a loss of over $100 billion.
“The inability of the national leadership to handle the Afghan situation wisely landed the country into two main pro and anti-America divisions,” he said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said national security could not be ensured unless the inclusive development and equitable growth of all segments of society, provinces, and people was established.
“Unequal distribution of resources leads to anarchy among the people who are left out of the mainstream development,” he said, at the inaugural session of the annual Margalla Dialogue.
The prime minister said the uplift of underprivileged segment of the society was critical to ensure across the board national security.
He stressed that rule of law and equality for all were the preconditions for democracy.
He regretted that Pakistan had suffered an inequality due to three simultaneous educational systems, namely English and Urdu medium schools, and the madrassas.
He pointed out that differences in educational standards of the systems resulted in three different kinds of generations with discrimination in opportunities of jobs.
Imran Khan also pointed out that corruption, particularly of the elite, was detrimental to the development of a country.
The prime minister emphasized the importance of research by the think tanks of the country to counter the negative propaganda in the world.
“Research leads to original thinking within a society. You have to define yourself instead of letting others define you,” he said.
He said lack of in-depth research led to reliance on second-hand information by the western think tanks on important issues such as Afghanistan.
Pakistan, he said, was the country that suffered most in collateral damage in the wake of the Afghan conflict, however was made a scapegoat for the mistakes of the superpowers.
He mentioned that inability of the national leadership to handle the Afghan situation wisely landed the country into two main pro and anti-America divisions.
He said the role of local thinktanks in this situation was important to effectively highlight Pakistan’s perspective in the world rather than being under continuous criticism by the western lobbies.
The prime minister said Pakistan was blamed for wrong reasons by the international community, whereas it remained mum on the atrocities committed by India in Jammu & Kashmir.
Imran Khan said Pakistan in fact had a beautiful and positive face being the home of generous and hospitable people.
On Islamophobia, he said, a strong response by Muslim thin tanks was important to nullify the impression of Islam’s linkage with terrorism.
Prime Minister Imran Khan Saturday emphasized that Pakistan and the US must have a deeper engagement to promote the shared objectives of peace, stability and economic development in Afghanistan.
The prime minister, in a meeting with a four-member US Senate delegation including senators Angus King, Richard Burr, John Cornyn and Benjamin Sasse, particularly underscored the urgent need to support the Afghan people by taking all possible measures to prevent a humanitarian crisis and economic collapse.
He also highlighted the importance of closer cooperation to address the security threats in the region, including terrorism.
All four senators are members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, while Senator King is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Warmly welcoming the senators, the prime minister underlined that Pakistan valued its long-standing relationship with the US and was committed to expanding it in all spheres, particularly in the economic dimension.
He hoped that the visits of Congressional delegations would help strengthen mutual understanding and forge closer people-to-people contacts.
The prime minister reiterated that a deeper and stronger partnership between the two countries was mutually beneficial and critical for the region’s peace, security and prosperity.
Apprising the delegation about the continuation of egregious human rights violations in J&K the prime minister underscored that the extremist and exclusionist policies of the RSS-inspired BJP were posing a threat to regional peace and security.
He stressed that the US must play its role in the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.
The prime minister underscored that, for its part, Pakistan remained ready to pursue measures that would reinforce peace, stability and prosperity in the region, if the enabling environment was created by India.
Recalling the collective struggles of Pakistan and the US over the decades in promoting peace and security globally, the senators deeply appreciated Pakistan’s recent contribution in evacuation of the American nationals and others from Afghanistan post-15 August. They reaffirmed their commitment to a stable and broad-based Pakistan-US bilateral relationship. They emphasized that, given the size of Pakistan’s population as well as its geo-strategic location, the US and Pakistan should make determined efforts to promote trade, investment and economic cooperation.