ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has warned that a hasty international withdrawal from Afghanistan would be ‘unwise’ and abandoning the Afghan peace process for any reason would be ‘a great travesty’.
The Prime Minister expressed his views in an opinion piece he wrote for an international newspaper wherein he spoke about the casualties of war suffered by Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“With the exception of the resilient Afghans themselves, no people have paid a higher price for the conflict in Afghanistan than the people of Pakistan,” he wrote.
He further said, “Through decades of conflict, Pakistan has dealt with the responsibility of taking care of more than 4 million Afghan refugees. Guns and drugs have also flowed into our country. The wars have disrupted our economic trajectory and radicalized fringes of our own society.”
He highlighted that peace and political stability in Afghanistan could not be imposed from the outside through the use of force. “Only an Afghan-owned reconciliation process, which recognizes country’s political realities and diversity, could produce lasting peace,” he added.
The premier also said that the path leading to the talks between the Afghan leadership and the Taliban was not easy. He pointed out that the United States and its allies had facilitated the prisoner exchange while both the Afghan government and the Taliban had responded to the Afghan people’s yearning for peace.
The Prime Minister also warned that the intra-Afghan negotiations were likely to be even more difficult, requiring patience and compromise from all sides. “At such times, we would do well to remember that a bloodless deadlock on the negotiating table is infinitely better than a bloody stalemate on the battlefield,” he stated.
“All those who have invested in the Afghan peace process should resist the temptation for setting unrealistic timelines. A hasty international withdrawal from Afghanistan would be unwise,” he asserted.
PM Imran reiterated that Pakistan will continue to support the Afghan people in their quest for a unified, independent and sovereign Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbors.
“Like the United States, Pakistan does not want to see Afghanistan become a sanctuary for international terrorism ever again,” he added.