Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan is pushing for the Taliban to develop a consensus that would lead to the recognition of the new caretaker government of the “Islamic Emirate” in Afghanistan.
Speaking to CNN, in the first interview with an international news agency since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last month, Khan said the best way forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan is to engage with the Taliban and “incentivize” them on topics such as eg. as women’s rights and inclusive government.
“The Taliban are holding the whole of Afghanistan, and if they can now work towards an inclusive government, get all the factions together, Afghanistan can have peace after 40 years. But if it goes wrong and we are really worried, it is the greatest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem, Khan said.
“It is a mistake to think that someone from the outside will give Afghan women rights. Afghan women are strong. Give them time. They will get their rights,” Khan said.
“Women should have the ability in a society to fulfill their potential in life,” Khan said.
Since taking power, the group has sought to paint a new picture with promises to uphold human rights, especially regarding women and girls, and to allow journalists to continue their work.
However, women have been left out of the Taliban’s harsh interim government, have been ordered to stay at home in some areas, and their education is limited.
Protests against the Taliban regime and for civil rights have been fiercely suppressed, with reports of journalists being arrested and severely beaten.
In recent days, the Taliban have imposed gender segregation in classrooms, saying female students, speakers and staff must wear the hijab in accordance with the group’s interpretation of sharia law. And Taliban fighters have used whips and sticks against female protesters who have taken to the streets in sporadic protests across the country, demanding equal rights.
Khan also said the world should give the Taliban “time” for human rights, but feared “chaos” without help, CNN reported.
Khan claimed that the Taliban was seeking international assistance to avoid a crisis that could be used to push the group in “the right direction toward legitimacy.” However, he warned that Afghanistan could not be controlled by external forces.
“No puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people,” he said. “So instead of sitting here and thinking that we can control them, we should encourage them. Because Afghanistan, this current government, clearly feels that without international help and assistance, they will not be able to stop this crisis. “So we should push them in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, Khan also commented on the “terrible” relationship with the United States, which has been disastrous for Pakistan, and how he now seeks a more pragmatic approach in dealing with Afghanistan’s new leaders.
“We (Pakistan) were like a rented gun,” Khan said. “We had to get them (the United States) to win the war in Afghanistan, which we never could.”
Khan said he repeatedly warned U.S. officials that America could not achieve its goals militarily and would “get stuck there.” He said the United States should have sought a political settlement with the Taliban from a “position of strength” at the height of its presence in Afghanistan, not when they withdrew.
Khan has previously criticized the US exit from Afghanistan, saying he has not spoken to President Joe Biden since taking over the Taliban, despite Pakistan being a key ally outside NATO.
“I can imagine he’s very busy, but our relationship with the United States is not just dependent on a phone call, it has to be a multidimensional relationship,” Khan said.
On Monday, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said the United States would reassess its relations with Pakistan after the withdrawal. He told Congress during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that Pakistan has a “diversity of interests, some of which are in conflict with ours.”
Khan called such comments “ignorant” and told CNN that “I have never heard such ignorance.”
According to Khan, thousands of Pakistanis lost their lives in terrorist attacks by “militant groups” because of his country’s support for the United States. Just because we sided with the United States, we became an ally of the United States after 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. “The suffering that this country went through at a time when there were 50 militant groups attacking our government … on top of that, they should also know that there were 480 drone attacks from the United States in Pakistan,” he added.
“Only once has a country been attacked by its allies,” he said of the US strikes.
The United States has repeatedly accused Pakistan of having terrorists and given them a safe haven, Khan claimed.
“What are these safe havens?” Khan asked. “Pakistan’s territory along the border with Afghanistan had the heaviest surveillance of US drones … surely they would have known that if there were safe ports?”
Khan said he can not destroy his country to “fight someone else’s war.”
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)