South Asia

Imran Khan warns Pakistan against making ‘irresponsible statements’ against Taliban

Photo: Reuters

Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan has berated the coalition government for making “irresponsible statements” against the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan and not fully cooperating with the group.

This comes after warnings were issued recently that Islamabad would attack Afghanistan if the Taliban failed to take action against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a militant group Pakistan claims is being harbored by Kabul.

The TTP has meanwhile ramped up attacks in Pakistan in the past month after calling off a ceasefire in late November.

Addressing a seminar via video link, Khan said: “Ministers are issuing irresponsible statements that they are planning to attack Afghanistan; if the Afghan government stops cooperation with [Pakistan], then we will have a never-ending war on our hands.”

Khan, who was ousted as the prime minister in April, said the coalition government was not focusing on talks with its Afghan counterpart and that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s first foreign trip should have been to the neighboring country.

The former prime minister said military operations “never” bear fruit and they are part of peace agreements, as he reiterated that the government should engage with the Taliban to avoid terror activities on Pakistani soil.

“We had a golden opportunity when America left Afghanistan; we tried to better our ties with the [former] Ashraf Ghani government as best as we could and decided not to intervene in Afghan affairs,” he said.

But once the Taliban took over, Khan also kept engaging with them, and he said that “Pakistan helped evacuate foreigners from Afghanistan”.

‘Ending corruption’

Slamming the “imported government” for the rising terror incidents, he said that during his tenure, Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) had divided to support the tribal areas, but the current regime did not focus on them.

“These people [current rulers] are focusing on ending their corruption cases. They have not focused on the economy,” he said, claiming that due to the government’s policies, there has been a rise in terrorism.

He said that controlling the borders is the federal government’s responsibility and noted that “I had already said that when you can’t control your economy, you cannot control terrorism”.

Khan added that Pakistan’s police do not stand a chance against the terrorists due to their weapons. “Terrorists are equipped with modern weapons that the US left behind.”

Khan meanwhile told seminar delegates that his government had repeatedly asked the Taliban to ensure that its soil did not get used for terrorism. But the Taliban-led government has not been able to live up to the expectations, he said.

Pakistan’s Geo TV reported that following the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021, the TTP regrouped in Afghanistan and that the activities of the militants have been mainly focused in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the former accounting for 31% of the attacks in the last year and the latter 67%.

In its annual report, the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) said that Pakistan saw as many as 376 terror attacks in the last year. A majority of these attacks were claimed by banned terrorist groups including TTP, Daesh, and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).