Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in an interview with on Tuesday, 27 July, questioned the United States for its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and said, "I think the US has really messed it up in Afghanistan."
Speaking to Judy Woodruff on PBS NewsHour, Khan said that a political settlement that is 'inclusive' and involves all factions, including the Taliban, is the only solution to Afghanistan's situation, Dawn reported.
The US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) allies have agreed to withdraw all troops in return for a deal by the Taliban militants to make sure that the areas under Taliban control would prevent extremist groups from operating.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden announced that American troops will be out of the country by 31 August.
After the Taliban refused to hand over Al-Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden for his role in the 11 Septmeber, 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre, the US invaded Afghanistan in October, 2001.
Khan criticised the US for trying to 'look for a military solution in Afghanistan, when there never was one'.
He added, "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," PTI reported.
What is Happening in Afghanistan?
Almost 20 years after the US' invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to overthrow the Taliban from power in the country, the US is now looking to withdraw the American troops from the nation by the end of August.
Representatives of the Afghanistan government and Taliban are engaged in negotiations over the militant organisation's increasing control over the country.
However, the dialogue has been largely unsuccessful, with the Taliban seeking complete military dominance over the country, as per reports.
The escalating conflict situation in the country has resulted in the deaths of as many as 4,000 people, as well as the internal displacement of over 2 lakh citizens of the country. Almost one-third of the country is actively involved in the fighting.
US Lost Their Bargaining Power: Khan
Imran Khan claimed that by the time US realised that there was no military solution in Afghanistan, it was too late, as they had lost their bargaining power.
He added that the US should have opted for a political settlement earlier, when 1,50,000 NATO troops were stationed 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 was quoted as saying.
Impact on Pakistan
For Pakistan, the "worst-case scenario" as Khan described, would be for Afghanistan to descend into a civil war, as that would lead to a refugee problem and its consequences could "flow into Pakistan".
Responding to whether Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan was a positive development, Khan stated that the only good outcome would be an inclusive political settlement, where Taliban will be a part of the government.
He was quoted as saying, "Already, Pakistan is hosting over three million Afghan refugees. And what we fear is that a protracted civil war would bring more refugees. And our economic situation is not such that we can have another influx," PTI reported.
The Taliban were ethnic Pashtuns, Prime Minister Khan explained, and added, "if this (civil war and violence) goes on, the Pashtuns on our side will be drawn into it. That is the last thing we want."
In the aftermath of the US war in Afghanistan, Khan said that 70,000 Pakistanis had died, even when "Pakistan had nothing to do with what happened," on 11 September 2001.
He stated that "there were no militant Taliban in Pakistan," and said that no Pakistani national was involved in the attack.
Repeating "we had nothing to do with," Khan said that the war in Afghanistan had cost $150 billion to Pakistan's economy.
(With inputs from PTI and Dawn)
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