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PM Imran warns against sanctioning ‘new Afghan regime’ to avoid chaos

Pakistan speaking to TTP groups 'from position of strength': PM. (Source: Middle East Eye)

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday warned against sanctioning the “new Afghan regime”, asserting that otherwise, it would only lead to chaos and a huge humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.

In an interview with the Middle East Eye, the Prime Minister stressed the need for the international community to engage with the Taliban, saying that a failure to do so could push the group back 20 years.

“The international community should immediately engage with Afghanistan to prevent the ascendancy of hardline elements within the Taliban’s own ranks,” he said, adding that unless US takes the lead, “we are worried that there will be chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan will be most affected”.

He pointed out that after so many years, members of the Taliban who had given sacrifices would want to be rewarded by being placed in the government’s hierarchy.

“Yet, the government is clearly trying to get international acceptability so it wants an inclusive government, talks about human rights and not allowing its soil to be used for terrorism by anyone,” he added.

The premier further said that if Afghanistan would once again descend into chaos, it would become a fertile ground for terrorists like ISIS. “A stable Afghanistan government which can then take on ISIS, and the Taliban are the best bet to take on ISIS, that is the only option left,” he added.

PM Imran said that the US had to “pull itself together” from the shock it had suffered after the withdrawal. “I don’t think they have found their feet as yet,” he said, adding that Pakistan would also suffer as a result of chaos in Afghanistan.

Pressed on the lack of inclusiveness in the new government setup, the prime minister acknowledged that it was not present “right now” but hoped it would be in the future, adding that it was needed because Afghanistan was a diverse society.

Pakistan speaking to TTP groups ‘from position of strength’

The Prime Minister asserted that Pakistan was speaking to various groups of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from a ‘position of strength’. “Islamabad is trying to speak to elements within the TTP who can be reconciled because it’s from a position of strength,” he added.

“I always believed all insurgencies eventually end up on the dialogue table, like the IRA [Irish Republican Army] for instance,” he said, adding, “We now have to talk to those we can reconcile with and persuade to give up their arms and live as normal citizens.”

The premier also spoke about the sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the War on Terror, saying that Pakistan had lost 80,000 citizens and its economy had been left devastated.

The prime minister said the Taliban had assured Islamabad that the TTP would not launch attacks into Pakistan. He accused India of instigating terrorism in Pakistan via Afghanistan, during the Ashraf Ghani-led government.

‘No pressure to recognise Israel’

Asked about the treatment of the Palestinians by Israel and whether it had provided a “template” to India, he noted that the two countries were very close. PM Iman pointed out that Indian premier Narendra Modi had clamped down on occupied Kashmir on August 5, 2019, after his visit to Israel.

“Do we think he got his instruction from there? Because that is what Israel has done. They have built such a strong security apparatus and crush anything. They will send people in and kill and assassinate and they have total immunity,” he added.

The premier also denied any pressure from Gulf countries to recognise Israel and said that Pakistan was a democratic country which could not take any unilateral decision without taking the people aboard.