'Taliban are normal civilians': Pak PM Imran Khan on providing 'safe haven' to terrorists
- Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan termed a recent report of 10,000 Pakistani fighters crossing over the border to help the Taliban as "absolute nonsense."
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said the United States “really messed it up” in Afghanistan by initially looking for a military solution and then attempting to seek a political solution from a position of weakness. In an interview with PBS NewsHour aired Tuesday night, Khan said that the US should have opted for a political solution when the presence of Nato forces in Afghanistan were at an all-time high and not when they had reduced the troops to “barely” 10,000.
"I think the US has really messed it up in Afghanistan," Khan told PBS NewsHour.
The Pakistan premier opined that an “inclusive” political settlement that involves all factions, including the Taliban, will be the “only good outcome” for Afghanistan. Pakistan has been long accused of helping the Taliban militarily, financially and with intelligence inputs in their fight against the Afghan government, which Khan dismissed as “extremely unfair”.
He said that thousands of Pakistanis lost their lives in the aftermath of the US war in Afghanistan when “Pakistan had nothing to do with what happened” on September 11, 2001, in New York.
When asked about a recent report of 10,000 Pakistani fighters crossing over the border to help the Taliban, he said, "This is absolute nonsense. Why don't they give us evidence of this?"
Khan stressed that Pakistan hosts three million Aghan refugees of which the majority are Pashtuns, the same ethnic group as the Taliban fighters.
“Now, there are camps of 500,000 people, 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? How can you call them sanctuaries?” he argued.
According to a report prepared for the UN Security Council, about 6,000 terrorists of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are operating on the Afghan side of the border. While the TTP has “distinctive anti-Pakistan objectives”, it also supports the Afghan Taliban militants inside Afghanistan against Afghan Forces, the report by the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team said.