US 'really messed it up' in Afghanistan, says Imran Khan
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the US “really messed it up” in Afghanistan as he questioned the American motive for the 2001 invasion of the country in the first place and then their subsequent attempts of seeking a political solution with the Taliban from a position of weakness.
Khan also said that the only good solution to the Afghan situation is through a political settlement that is “inclusive” and involves all factions, including the Taliban.
“I think the US has really messed it up in Afghanistan,” Khan said during an interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour, an American news programme, aired on Tuesday night, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Under a deal with the Taliban, the US and its Nato allies agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a commitment by the militants that they would prevent extremist groups from operating in areas they control. US President Joe Biden has announced that American troops will be out of the country by August 31.
The Taliban ruled Afghanistan by brute force from 1996 to 2001 when the US invasion toppled their government.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October, 2001, after the Taliban refused to hand over al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden who was behind the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in America.
Khan criticised the US for trying to “look for a military solution in Afghanistan, when there never was one”.
“And people like me who kept saying that there’s no military solution, who know the history of Afghanistan, we were called — people like me were called anti-American. I was called Taliban Khan,” Khan said.
He lamented that by the time the US realised that there was no military solution in Afghanistan, “unfortunately, the bargaining power of the Americans or the Nato had gone”.
The Pakistan Prime Minister said the US should have opted for a political settlement much earlier, when there were as many as 150,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan.
“But once they had reduced the troops to barely 10,000, and then, when they gave an exit date, the Taliban thought they had won.
“And so, therefore, it was very difficult for now to get them to compromise,” he said.
When the interviewer asked whether he thought the Taliban resurgence was a positive development for Afghanistan, the Prime Minister reiterated that the only good outcome would be a political settlement, “which is inclusive”.
Khan described the “worst-case scenario” as being one where Afghanistan descends into a civil war.
“From Pakistan’s point of view, that is the worst-case scenario, because we face two scenarios, one (of them being) a refugee problem,” he said.
“Already, Pakistan is hosting over three million Afghan refugees. And what we fear is that a protracted civil war would [bring] more refugees.”