Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan admitted on September 24 that Pakistan committed “one of the biggest blunders” by joining the U.S. after the 9/11 attacks, saying the previous governments “should not have pledged what they could not deliver”. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think-tank here, Mr. Khan also said the least he expects the international community to do is to urge India to lift the curfew in Kashmir.
Responding to a question, Mr. Khan said he had urged his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to “reset” bilateral ties and his government waited to resume talks until after the elections in India were over but then it found that “India is pushing us in the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force to bankrupt us”.
He said that by abrogating Article 370, India had cast aside the UN Security Council resolutions, the Simla accord and its own Constitution. Mr. Khan said he would ask the UN to play its role on the Kashmir issue.
Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”. New Delhi has also asked Islamabad to accept the reality and stop its anti-India rhetoric.
When asked about former U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis’ remark that he considered Pakistan to be “the most dangerous” among all countries he had dealt with, Mr. Khan said: “I do not think Mattis fully understands why Pakistan became radicalised.”
Mr. Khan said Pakistan “committed one of the biggest blunders” when it joined the US war on terror after the 9/11 terror attacks by the al-Qaeda.
“I think the Pakistani government should not have pledged what they could not deliver,” Mr. Khan said, referring to the then Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf’s decision to side with the U.S.
Pakistan was one of the three countries which recognised the Taliban government in Afghanistan before the U.S. invasion in 2001 there. After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan extended support to American forces against the Taliban.
“In the 1980s, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan, helped by the U.S., organised the resistance to the Soviets. The ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) trained militants who were invited from all over the Muslim world to do jihad against the Soviets,” Mr. Khan said in response to a question.
“And so we created these militant groups to fight the Soviets…Jihadis were heroes then. Come 1989, Soviets leave Afghanistan, the US packs up and leaves Afghanistan…and we were left with these groups,” he added.
“Then comes 9/11, and Pakistan again joins the U.S. in the war on terror and now we are required to go after these groups as terrorists. They were indoctrinated that fighting foreign occupation in jihad but now when the U.S. arrived in Afghanistan, it was supposed to be terrorism,” Mr. Khan added.
“So Pakistan took a real battering in this,” the Prime Minister said, adding that Pakistan should have stayed neutral in the conflict.
He insisted that there could be no military solution in Afghanistan and said he will urge U.S. President Donald Trump to resume peace talks. “For 19 years if you have not been able to succeed, you are not going to be able to succeed in another 19 years,” he added.
On Pakistan’s fragile economy, Mr. Khan said his government had inherited “the biggest current account deficit” in the country’s history and “so the first year has been a real struggle”. Mr. Khan thanked China for helping “when we were at the rock bottom”.
“China has given us a great opportunity to lift ourselves up from where we are right now,” he added.