Imran Khan: US sees Pakistan useful only to clean up its Afghanistan 'mess'

  • 11 Aug 2021

"Pakistan is just considered only to be useful in the context of somehow settling this mess which has been left behind [by US] after 20 years of trying to find a military solution when there was not one," says Pakistani PM.

Pakistani soldiers stand at the Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham border crossing in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on August 3, 2021. ( AFP )

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the United States of seeing his country as useful only in the context of the "mess" it is leaving behind in Afghanistan after 20 years of fighting.

Washington has been pressing Pakistan to use its influence over the Taliban to broker an elusive peace deal as negotiations between the insurgents and Afghan government have stalled, and violence in Afghanistan has escalated sharply.

"Pakistan is just considered only to be useful in the context of somehow settling this mess which has been left behind [by US] after 20 years of trying to find a military solution when there was not one," Khan told foreign journalists at his home in Islamabad on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Pakistan urges look into 'meltdown' of Afghan forces as Taliban advances

Pakistan says not taking sides in Afghanistan

The United States will pull out its military by August 31, 20 years after toppling the Taliban government in 2001. But, as the United States leaves, the Taliban today controls more territory than at any point since then.

Kabul and several Western governments say Pakistan's support for the insurgent group allowed it to weather the war.

The charge of supporting the Taliban despite being a US ally has long been a sore point between Washington and Islamabad. Pakistan denies supporting the Taliban.

Khan said Islamabad was not taking sides in Afghanistan.

"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 said.

Pakistan and India are arch-rivals and have fought three wars, two over disputed Kashmir.  

The two share frosty ties and currently have minimal diplomatic relations.

READ MORE: Islamabad can no longer ignore the resurgence of the Pakistani Taliban

Taliban wants Ghani to go

A political settlement in Afghanistan was looking difficult under current conditions, Khan added.

He said he tried to persuade Taliban leaders when they were visiting Pakistan to reach a settlement.

"The condition is that as long as Ashraf Ghani is there, we (Taliban) are not going to talk to the Afghan government," Khan said, quoting the Taliban leaders as telling him.

Peace talks between the Taliban, who view Ghani and his government as US puppets, and a team of Kabul-nominated Afghan negotiators started last September but have made no substantive progress.

Representatives of a number of countries, including the United States, are currently in the Qatari capital of Doha talking to both sides in a last-ditch push for a ceasefire.

US forces have continued to use air strikes to support Afghan forces against Taliban advances, but it remains unclear if such support will continue after August 31.

Khan said Pakistan had "made it very clear" that it does not want any American military bases in Pakistan after US forces exit Afghanistan.

READ MORE: The Taliban ‘won’ because the world gave up on Afghanistan too soon

Pakistan slams 'disinformation' over Afghan concerns

Meanwhile, Pakistan's national security adviser Moeed Yusuf on Wednesday accused Afghan officials of backing a disinformation campaign on social media against Pakistan.

Yusuf said the purpose of the campaign was to blame Pakistan for whatever is happening inside Afghanistan and to absolve the Afghan leadership.

He reiterated that Pakistan was in favour of a politically negotiated settlement of the Afghan issue.

"Pakistan is a victim of the war in Afghanistan," he said, noting that his country had suffered large numbers of casualties and lost billions of dollars as a result of the Afghan conflict.

"Many in positions of responsibility [Afghan officials] are busy trying to shift the blame, trying to create fake news and disinformation campaigns," he added.

"Pakistan will respond to this every time through data, analytics and reality – not through fake news as others are doing."

On Monday, Yusuf accused Afghanistan of scapegoating Pakistan, blaming it for the Taliban advances and demanded evidence of accusations by Kabul at a recent UN Security Council meeting that 10,000 fighters were crossing from Pakistan to Afghanistan.

Instead he attacked the performance of Afghanistan’s National Defense and Security Forces in those areas where they abandoned districts, occasionally crossing into Tajikistan or Iran or Pakistan to escape the advancing Taliban.

"We are told that over a trillion dollars were put into Afghanistan and much of that into the ANDSF to prepare the army and the security forces. ... What is going on with this well-equipped and trained force?"

READ MORE: Afghan Taliban 'sensing victory', won't listen to Pakistan