Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s crucial statement over Afghan Taliban and the future of Afghanistan

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Pakistani PM Imran Khan’s crucial statement over Afghan Taliban and the future of Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan is pushing for a political settlement in Afghanistan before foreign troops leave later this year, to reduce the risk of civil war in its western neighbour.

“There is a lot of fear right now in Pakistan and I assure you that we are trying our level best that there is some sort of political settlement before the Americans leave,” he told a British news agency on Friday.

The United States has said it will withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan on Sept 11 after a two-decade presence. More than 20 allied countries plan to follow suit, the news agency reported.

“Since the moment the Americans gave a date, of when they were going to leave Afghanistan, the Taliban feel they have won the war,” Imran Khan said, adding it was not going to be easy to get concessions from the Taliban after the US decision.

ZALMAY KHALILZAD

He said that Pakistan would suffer the most, after Afghanistan itself, if there was civil war and a refugee crisis. “And then there would be pressure on us to jump in and become a part of it.” He said his government had changed Pakistan’s decades-long policy of pushing for strategic depth in Afghanistan to ensure that there was a friendly government there.

“Any Afghan government chosen by the people is who Pakistan should deal with,” the prime minister said, adding that Pakistan should not try to do any manipulation in Afghanistan. He said a lot depended on US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, with Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s help, to carve out a settlement to avoid more bloodshed.