Pakistan’s garrulous Prime Minister Imran Khan has made an astounding foot-in-the mouth statement. Speaking on behalf of the Taliban, he revealed that the extremist will not hold peaceful negotiations so long as Afghanistan’s elected president remained in power.
By making, some would say, a not-so-smart statement, the Pakistani Prime Minister has blown up the cover. He has simply confirmed, which insiders always knew, that Islamabad and the Taliban were conjoined twins, and any attempt to separate the two was fiction, scripted by the generals occupying the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, amplified by their bullhorns in high places.
In an open confession that the Taliban is in touch with Pakistan on the inside, the Pakistani Prime Minister made it clear that the Taliban will not talk to the present Afghan government led by the president Ashraf Ghani. According to the Dawn newspaper, Khan told the media that he did try to persuade the Taliban leaders when they were visiting Pakistan to reach a settlement.
“The condition is that as long as President Ashraf Ghani is there, we (Taliban) are not going to talk to the Afghan government,” Khan said, quoting the Taliban leaders as telling him.
Talking to foreign journalists in Islamabad, the Pakistani PM said he tried to persuade the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government, but Taliban leaders refused to talk about the political settlement, saying that it is difficult in the current Afghan situation. But it was equally obvious that no attempt was made to pressurise the Taliban, dependent on Pakistani supplies lines to change course.
According to Pakistani sources, Imran Khan told foreign journalists that the group viewed Ghani and his government as US puppets and that was the reason why the Doha talks had been “stalled” by the Taliban.
When asked about Pakistan providing safe heavens to the Taliban and Pakistani soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, Khan once again denied and called this anti-Pakistan propaganda.
“When they say that Pakistan gave safe havens, sanctuaries to Taliban, where are these safe havens? There are camps of 100,000 people. And Taliban are not some military outfits. They are normal civilians. And if there are some civilians in these camps, how is Pakistan supposed to hunt these people down?” Khan repeated the same argument. He added the world has pressurised Pakistan to take military action. No country has done more than Pakistan to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table and it is very unfair to blame Pakistan for what is happening in Afghanistan.
Blaming the US and president Joe Biden, Khan said that the US is currently putting pressure on Pakistan to influence the Taliban to come back to the negotiation table. But that is not possible.
Pakistan is useful only in the context of the “mess” it is leaving behind in Afghanistan after 20 years of fighting, Khan observed.
The former cricketer is miffed with US president Joe Biden has not called him — a call that he has been waiting for since Biden took charge of the US presidency in January this year. Khan’s problem is that Biden has been talking to his neighbours — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.
“I think that the Americans have decided that India is their strategic partner now, and I think that’s why there’s a different way of treating Pakistan now,” Khan observed.
In an interview with The Financial Times, National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf said Pakistan has other “options” if President Biden keeps ignoring “calls” from the Pakistani PM.
For the last two days #SanctionPakistan hashtag has been trending on twitter with more than eight lakh tweets as the Taliban’s onslaughts on Afghans are on rise. Netizens believe that without Pakistan’s active support, the Taliban could not have come so far. One of the main proponents of the trend has been a prominent Afghan journalist Habib Khan Totakhil.
“If you are Afghan or a friend of Afghanistan, speak up,” he tweeted.
Pakistani Information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain and NSA Moeed Yusuf were quick to blame India for the tweets.
Releasing a “Deep Analytics Report” on “Anti-State Trends prepared by the Digital Media Wing of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Yusuf said that Pakistan will expose those who are behind this anti-Pakistan campaign.
Reacting to this, Reham Khan said in a post, “I’m embarrassed to share this by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting of Pakistan. Naming me & others as Anti State because we raise human rights violations, the issue of missing persons & mysterious killings is only humiliating the state. Don’t defame Pakistan officially.”