Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Monday that his country committed “one of the biggest blunders” by joining the U.S.-led war on terror after the 9/11 attacks.
Responding to questions at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a think tank in New York city, he said the previous governments “should not have pledged what they could not deliver”, while referring to former military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s decision to side with the U.S.
Highlighting inconsistency in the American policy, the prime minister said the groups who fought Soviet invasion in Afghanistan were eulogized as heroes and later the U.S. fought against the same people, declaring them as terrorists.
“In the 1980s, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan, helped by the U.S., organized the resistance. The ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] trained militants who were invited from all over the Muslim world for jihad against the Soviets,” he said.
The ISI is the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan.
“And so, we created these militant groups to fight the Soviets… Jihadis were heroes then. Come 1989, Soviets leave Afghanistan, the U.S. also packs up and leaves… 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,” he said.
Describing the decision of joining the U.S.-led anti-terror alliance post Sept. 11, 2001 attacks as the biggest blunder, he said that his country has lost 70,000 people, besides billions in terms of economy.
Responding to questions on Afghanistan, he ruled out any military solution.
“There was never going to be a military solution simply because … you just have to read the history.
They fight each other; the moment a foreigner comes in, they [people of Afghanistan] all get together and the resistance starts… Three times with British. Soviets killed 1 million Afghanis, but still resistance remained as stronger,” he said.
The Pakistani prime minister said he has tried to explain the complexities of Afghanistan situation to senior American congress members in the past.
“I do not think it is because of Pakistan that the U.S. was not able to succeed in Afghanistan, simply because there is a history behind it. It was never going to happen,” he said.
Khan said that there are some 2.7 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and there is no actual border between the two countries.
“How do we know who is coming in and going out?” he asked. But he informed that his country was now fencing the border and putting up more check points.
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