Pakistan’s Imran Khan says world should give Taliban ‘time’ on human rights but fears ‘chaos’ without aid

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Speaking to Granthshala from his private Bani Gala residence in Islamabad on Wednesday, Khan talked about enduring what has been disastrous for Pakistan as a “terrible” relationship with the United States and now Looking for a more practical approach to deal with this. The new leader of Afghanistan.

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It was the prime minister’s first interview with an international news organization since the Taliban took control of neighboring Afghanistan last month following a full withdrawal of US troops.

“The Taliban have occupied the whole of Afghanistan and if they can now work towards an inclusive government, bring all the factions together, then there can be peace in Afghanistan after 40 years. But if it goes wrong And we’re really worried, it could go into chaos. The biggest humanitarian crisis, a big refugee problem,” Khan said.


Khan claimed the Taliban were seeking international aid to avoid a crisis that could be used to push the group “in the right direction towards legitimacy”. However, he warned that Afghanistan cannot be controlled by outside forces.

“No puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people,” he said. “So instead of sitting here thinking that we can control them, we should encourage them. Because Afghanistan, this current government, clearly feels that without international aid and help, they will not be able to stop this crisis So we should steer them in the right direction.”

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Even before the Taliban returned to power, prolonged conflict, poverty, successive droughts, economic decline and the coronavirus pandemic worsened the already dire situation in which 18 million Afghans – nearly half the population – needed Was. Aid according to UN agencies.

Critics say the Taliban would destabilize the country, with Khan alluding to the withdrawal of the Soviet Union in 1989, resulting in a “bloodbath”. Khan said he was expecting a similar bloodbath to happen after the US military left.

“Our intelligence agencies told us that the Taliban would not be able to take over the whole of Afghanistan, and that if they tried to take Afghanistan militarily, there would be a long civil war, which we feared because we are the ones who would suffer the most, Khan said. Now, he said, the world should “give them time” to form a legitimate government and fulfill their promises.

women in government

Since taking power, the terrorist group has attempted to burnish its international credentials with respect to human rights, especially women and girls, and with promises to allow journalists to continue their work.

However, the women have been removed from the Taliban. hard-line interim government, Stayed ordered to stay at home In some areas, and their education is restricted. Protests against the Taliban regime and civil rights have been violently suppressed, with journalists being arrested and severely beaten up.

“It is wrong to think that someone from outside will give rights to Afghan women. Afghan women are strong. Give them time. They will get their rights,” Khan said.

“Women should have the ability to fulfill their potential in life in the society,” Khan said. “In Pakistan, what we have done is we have actually given stipend to poor families to send girls to school because we feel that if girls, if girl child studies, if they have education, they will get their rights. ,” he said.

However, many in the international community do not expect the Taliban to make any progress in upholding women’s rights. The Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 but were forced out of power following a US-led invasion, have historically treated women as second-class citizens, subjecting them to violence, forced marriages and The country has been subjected to an almost invisible presence.

The group barred women from the workplace, prevented them from leaving the house alone and forced them to cover their entire bodies.

In recent days the Taliban gender segregation mandated in classes and that female students, lecturers and staff must wear the hijab in accordance with the group’s interpretation of Sharia law. A Taliban official announced that women will not be allowed To play cricket and other sports. and Taliban fighters have used whips and sticks Against women protesters who have taken to the streets in sporadic protests across the country demanding equal rights.
“Contrary to assurances that the Taliban will uphold women’s rights, women have been progressively excluded from the public sphere over the past three weeks,” said UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet said in Geneva on Monday.

America return

Khan has previously criticized the US exit from Afghanistan, saying he has not spoken to President Joe Biden since the Taliban takeover, while Pakistan is a major non-NATO ally.

“I think he is very busy, but our relationship with the US is not dependent on just one phone call, but should be a multifaceted relationship,” Khan said.

This is something that Khan does not think Pakistan enjoyed during America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan. “We (Pakistan) were like hired guns,” Khan said. “We were going to force them (the US) to win the war in Afghanistan, which we could never do.”

Khan said he has repeatedly warned US officials that the US cannot achieve its objectives militarily, and “will be stuck there.” He said the US should have attempted a political settlement with the Taliban from a “position of strength” at the height of its presence in Afghanistan, not that it was retreating.

Pakistan has had close ties with the Taliban and has been accused of supporting the group as it fought a US-backed government – ​​allegations denied by Islamabad. In 2018, Pakistani authorities released Mullah Baradar, a top Taliban official, from prison for the purpose of negotiating with the US. Last week he was named deputy prime minister in the Taliban’s all-male cabinet.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the US will re-evaluate its relationship with Pakistan. He told Congress during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that Pakistan has “majority interests that are in conflict with ours.”

Blinken said, “It is he who continues to hedge his bets about the future of Afghanistan, one that involves harboring members of the Taliban … .

Khan called such comments “ignorant”, telling Granthshala that “I have never heard such ignorance.”

As a neighboring country with deep cultural ties, Pakistan’s fate is closely tied to that of Afghanistan. Violence, political turmoil and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan all inevitably spread across the border. For Khan, the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was disastrous for Pakistan.

According to Khan, thousands of Pakistanis lost their lives in terrorist attacks by terrorist groups because of his country’s support for the US. “Just because we supported America, we became America’s allies after 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. The pain this country went through was 50 terrorist groups attacking our government at one time … Top But they should also know that there were 480 drone strikes by the US in Pakistan.”

“Only once has a country been attacked by its ally,” he said of US attacks.

The US has repeatedly accused Pakistan of harboring and providing safe havens to terrorists, a claim Khan has denied.

“What are these safe havens?” Khan asked. “The territory of Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan was most closely monitored by United States drones … surely they would know if there was a safe haven?”

Khan said that by not standing up to the US, former Pakistani heads of state opened themselves up to allegations of cooperation.

“The question is whether Pakistan was in a position to take military action against the Afghan Taliban when it was already being attacked from within, the Pakistani Taliban who were attacking the state of Pakistan?” he said.

Khan said he could not destroy his country to “fight someone else’s battle”.

“The Afghan Taliban were not attacking us. I wish I was in government. I would have told the US that we are not going to take them militarily because first, we have to serve the people. I would have been responsible for the people of my country.” , “Khan said.

Granthshala’s Becky Anderson, Alireza Haji Hosseini and Zeena Saifi reported from Islamabad, and Helen Regan wrote from Hong Kong. With additional reporting from Reuters.


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