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Featured Opinion: Don’t blame Pakistan for the outcome of the war in Afghanistan. Imran Khan article in Washington Post

Zarvan

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Opinion: Don’t blame Pakistan for the outcome of the war in Afghanistan

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A man surveys the site of the blast targeting the government girls school in Tank, Pakistan, on Sept. 22. (Saood Rehman/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Opinion by Imran Khan
Today at 6:00 a.m. EDT

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Imran Khan is the prime minister of Pakistan.
Watching the recent Congressional hearings on Afghanistan, I was surprised to see that no mention was made of Pakistan’s sacrifices as a U.S. ally in the war on terror for more than two decades. Instead, we were blamed for America’s loss.

Let me put it plainly. Since 2001, I have repeatedly warned that the Afghan war was unwinnable. Given their history, Afghans would never accept a protracted foreign military presence, and no outsider, including Pakistan, could change this reality.
Unfortunately, successive Pakistani governments after 9/11 sought to please the United States instead of pointing out the error of a military-dominated approach. Desperate for global relevance and domestic legitimacy, Pakistan’s military dictator Pervez Musharraf agreed to every American demand for military support after 9/11. This cost Pakistan, and the United States, dearly.



Those the United States asked Pakistan to target included groups trained jointly by the CIA and our intelligence agency, the ISI, to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Back then, these Afghans were hailed as freedom fighters performing a sacred duty. President Ronald Reagan even entertained the mujahideen at the White House.

Once the Soviets were defeated, the United States abandoned Afghanistan and sanctioned my country, leaving behind over 4 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and a bloody civil war in Afghanistan. From this security vacuum emerged the Taliban, many born and educated in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan.

Fast forward to 9/11, when the United States needed us again — but this time against the very actors we had jointly supported to fight foreign occupation. Musharraf offered Washington logistics and air bases, allowed a CIA footprint in Pakistan and even turned a blind eye to American drones bombing Pakistanis on our soil. For the first time ever, our army swept into the semiautonomous tribal areas on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which had earlier been used as the staging ground for the anti-Soviet jihad. The fiercely independent Pashtun tribes in these areas had deep ethnic ties with the Taliban and other Islamist militants.



For these people, the United States was an “occupier” of Afghanistan just like the Soviets, deserving of the same treatment. As Pakistan was now America’s collaborator, we too were deemed guilty and attacked. This was made much worse by over 450 U.S. drone strikes on our territory, making us the only country in history to be so bombed by an ally. These strikes caused immense civilian casualties, riling up anti-American (and anti-Pakistan army) sentiment further.

The die was cast. Between 2006 and 2015, nearly 50 militant groups declared jihad on the Pakistani state, conducting over 16,000 terrorist attacks on us. We suffered more than 80,000 casualties and lost over $150 billion in the economy. The conflict drove 3.5 million of our citizens from their homes. The militants escaping from Pakistani counterterrorism efforts entered Afghanistan and were then supported and financed by Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies, launching even more attacks against us.

Pakistan had to fight for its survival. As a former CIA station chief in Kabul wrote in 2009, the country was “beginning to crack under the relentless pressure directly exerted by the US.” Yet the United States continued to ask us to do more for the war in Afghanistan.



A year earlier, in 2008, I met then-Sens. Joe Biden, John F. Kerry and Harry M. Reid (among others) to explain this dangerous dynamic and stress the futility of continuing a military campaign in Afghanistan.

Even so, political expediency prevailed in Islamabad throughout the post-9/11 period. President Asif Zardari, undoubtedly the most corrupt man to have led my country, told the Americans to continue targeting Pakistanis because “collateral damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.” Nawaz Sharif, our next prime minister, was no different.

While Pakistan had mostly defeated the terrorist onslaught by 2016, the Afghan situation continued to deteriorate, as we had warned. Why the difference? Pakistan had a disciplined army and intelligence agency, both of which enjoyed popular support. In Afghanistan, the lack of legitimacy for an outsider’s protracted war was compounded by a corrupt and inept Afghan government, seen as a puppet regime without credibility, especially by rural Afghans.



Tragically, instead of facing this reality, the Afghan and Western governments created a convenient scapegoat by blaming Pakistan, wrongly accusing us of providing safe havens to the Taliban and allowing its free movement across our border. If it had been so, would the United States not have used some of the 450-plus drone strikes to target these supposed sanctuaries?
Still, to satisfy Kabul, Pakistan offered a joint border visibility mechanism, suggested biometric border controls, advocated fencing the border (which we have now largely done on our own) and other measures. Each idea was rejected. Instead, the Afghan government intensified the “blame Pakistan” narrative, aided by Indian-run fake news networks operating hundreds of propaganda outlets in multiple countries.

A more realistic approach would have been to negotiate with the Taliban much earlier, avoiding the embarrassment of the collapse of the Afghan army and the Ashraf Ghani government. Surely Pakistan is not to blame for the fact that 300,000-plus well-trained and well-equipped Afghan security forces saw no reason to fight the lightly armed Taliban. The underlying problem was an Afghan government structure lacking legitimacy in the eyes of the average Afghan.



Today, with Afghanistan at another crossroads, we must look to the future to prevent another violent conflict in that country rather than perpetuating the blame game of the past.

I am convinced the right thing for the world now is to engage with the new Afghan government to ensure peace and stability. The international community will want to see the inclusion of major ethnic groups in government, respect for the rights of all Afghans and commitments that Afghan soil shall never again be used for terrorism against any country. Taliban leaders will have greater reason and ability to stick to their promises if they are assured of the consistent humanitarian and developmental assistance they need to run the government effectively. Providing such incentives will also give the outside world additional leverage to continue persuading the Taliban to honor its commitments.

If we do this right, we could achieve what the Doha peace process aimed at all along: an Afghanistan that is no longer a threat to the world, where Afghans can finally dream of peace after four decades of conflict. The alternative — abandoning Afghanistan — has been tried before. As in the 1990s, it will inevitably lead to a meltdown. Chaos, mass migration and a revived threat of international terror will be natural corollaries. Avoiding this must surely be our global imperative.

Opinion | Imran Khan: Don’t blame Pakistan for the outcome of the war in Afghanistan - The Washington Post
 
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FuturePAF

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Talibs should offer up a secure trucking trade route to Uzbekistan for foreign traders, to show that their rule benefits the world in an immediate way. They can also give the go ahead for companies to come in and build the TAPI pipeline, but that will take time to show progress. They can start with that tangible benefit, and the outside world can then decide if they want to work with them.

Otherwise Central Asia will remain in the hands of the Russians, Chinese, Iranians and the Turks. That is what the US hoped for with the trade quad (US, Pak, Afghan, and Uzbek corridor) before the talib takeover.
 

VCheng

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If we do this right, we could achieve what the Doha peace process aimed at all along: an Afghanistan that is no longer a threat to the world, where Afghans can finally dream of peace after four decades of conflict. The alternative — abandoning Afghanistan — has been tried before. As in the 1990s, it will inevitably lead to a meltdown. Chaos, mass migration and a revived threat of international terror will be natural corollaries. Avoiding this must surely be our global imperative.
The threat of chaos to revive international terrorism may not work any more.
 

Cash GK

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The threat of chaos to revive international terrorism may not work any more.
Pakistan is telling the world again n again. If world don’t listen pakistan today. Tomorrow if something goes wrong atleat we can remind them what khan was telling them. If world don’t listen Pakistan today. For any terrorism if it happens in future it is not the Pakistan to blame. He is preparing Pakistan and world for future dangers. Man is smart and genius
 

VCheng

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The moment some crap happens they would start paying attention.
Pakistan is telling the world again n again. If world don’t listen pakistan today. Tomorrow if something goes wrong atleat we can remind them what khan was telling them. If world don’t listen Pakistan today. For any terrorism if it happens in future it is not the Pakistan to blame. He is preparing Pakistan and world for future dangers. Man is smart and genius
PMIK may be smart and genius, and Murrikans may be dumb, but trying to hold the world hostage to threat of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan is a strategy whose time has come and gone. Pakistan needs to move on as well.
 

Cash GK

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PMIK may be smart and genius, and Murrikans may be dumb, but trying to hold the world hostage to threat of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan is a strategy whose time has come and gone. Pakistan needs to move on as well.
Bro there are 100 of intelligence agencies working day night to destroy peace in Afghanistan and especially raw and some groups from Iran as well so khan is doing right thing to informing the world for danger it had happened when usa run away in li80z. So we are most concern party in this event
 

VCheng

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Bro there are 100 of intelligence agencies working day night to destroy peace in Afghanistan and especially raw and some groups from Iran as well so khan is doing right thing to informing the world for danger it had happened when usa run away in li80z. So we are most concern party in this event
Of course Pakistan is a concerned party, but not the only one. PMIK must do what is best for Pakistan's national interests, but other countries will do the same too.
 

One_Nation

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Sacrifice is not the right word to use. Pakistani politicians should stop mentioning this word.
 

cloud4000

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The threat of chaos to revive international terrorism may not work any more.
True. If the threat of terrorism was still a valid one, it would’ve been better to leave the US in Afghanistan. But the regional players wanted the US out of Afghanistan for their own vested interests. This leaves a vacuum where these regional players must deal with terrorism, if it emerges as IK claims it will.
 

VCheng

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True. If the threat of terrorism was still a valid one, it would’ve been better to leave the US in Afghanistan. But the regional players wanted the US out of Afghanistan for their own vested interests. This leaves a vacuum where these regional players must deal with terrorism, if it emerges as IK claims it will.
Let us see what happens in the region over the next few years. Pakistan is certainly not the only player here, albeit an important one.
 

ghazi52

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'Convenient scapegoat':
PM Imran says Pakistan should not be blamed for Afghan war's outcome


APP
September 27, 2021


Prime Minister Imran Khan says the world should use humanitarian and development assistance as a leverage against the Taliban. — AP/File



Prime Minister Imran Khan says the world should use humanitarian and development assistance as a leverage against the Taliban. — AP/File

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan must not be blamed for the outcome of the war in Afghanistan and for the losses of the United States, stressing on setting eyes on the future to avoid another conflict instead of continuing with a blame game.
“Today, with Afghanistan at another crossroads, we must look to the future to prevent another violent conflict in that country rather than perpetuating the blame game of the past,” he wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post on Monday.

The premier emphasised that Pakistan "surely" could not be blamed for the fact that “300,000-plus well-trained and equipped Afghan security forces saw no reason to fight the lightly armed Taliban”.

The underlying problem, he said, was an Afghan government structure lacking legitimacy in the eyes of the average Afghan.

He also expressed “surprise” over the recent Congressional hearings on Afghanistan, where “no mention was made of Pakistan’s sacrifices as a US ally in the war on terror for over two decades”.

“Instead, we were blamed for America’s loss,” he added.

Prime Minister Imran recalled that since 2001, he had repeatedly warned that the Afghan war was "unwinnable" and pointed out that given their history, the Afghans would never accept a protracted foreign military presence.

Even an outsider including Pakistan could not change this reality, he said.

Imran said "unfortunately", successive governments in Pakistan following 9/11 sought to please the US instead of pointing out the error in a military-dominated approach.
“Desperate for global relevance and domestic legitimacy, Pakistan’s military dictator Pervez Musharraf agreed to every American demand for military support after 9/11. This cost Pakistan, and the US, dearly,” he said.

The premier said the people the US had asked Pakistan to target included the groups trained jointly by the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

“Back then, the Afghans were hailed as freedom fighters performing a sacred duty. President Reagan even entertained the mujahideen at the White House,” he wrote.

He pointed out that after the Soviets' defeat, the US abandoned Afghanistan and sanctioned Pakistan, leaving behind more than five million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and a bloody civil war in Afghanistan.

“From this security vacuum emerged the Taliban, many born and educated in the Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan,” he said.
Post 9/11, he continued, the US needed Pakistan again, “but this time against the very actors we had jointly supported to fight foreign occupation”.

He said the mujahideens of the past were declared terrorists overnight, while militant groups declared a war against the Pakistani state after Pakistan supported the US war on terror.

Prime Minister Imran said Gen Musharraf offered Washington logistics and airbases, allowed a CIA footprint in Pakistan and even turned a blind eye to American drones bombing Pakistanis on their soil.

“For the first time ever, our army swept into the semi-autonomous tribal areas on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, which had earlier been used as the staging ground for the anti-Soviet jihad,” he recalled.

He said for the locals, the US was an “occupier” of Afghanistan just like the Soviets, deserving of the same treatment.
As Pakistan was now America’s collaborator, “we too were deemed guilty and attacked,” he said.

“This was made much worse by over 450 US drone strikes on our territory, making us the only country in history to be so bombed by an ally,” he added. “These strikes caused immense civilian casualties, riling up anti-American (and anti-Pakistan Army) sentiment further.”

He recounted the suffering in Pakistan after it joined the Afghan war.

“The die was cast,” the premier said. “Between 2006 and 2015, nearly 50 militant groups declared jihad on the Pakistani state, conducting over 16,000 terrorist attacks on us.”
Pakistan suffered over 80,000 casualties and lost over $150 billion in the economy, besides driving 3.5 million citizens from their homes, he added.

Imran said the militants escaping the Pakistani counter-terrorism efforts entered Afghanistan and were then supported and financed by Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies.

“Pakistan had to fight for its survival,” he wrote, quoting a former CIA station chief in Kabul in this regard who wrote in 2009 that the country was “beginning to crack under the relentless pressure directly exerted by the US”.

Yet the US continued to ask Pakistan to “do more” for the war in Afghanistan, he said.

The prime minister recalled that a year earlier, in 2008, he met then-senators Joe Biden, John Kerry and Harry Reid, among others, to explain this dangerous dynamic and stressed the futility of continuing a military campaign in Afghanistan.

Even so, political expediency prevailed in Islamabad throughout the post-9/11 period, he said.

He said former president Asif Ali Zardari — whom he termed “undoubtedly the most corrupt man to have led the country” — told the Americans to continue targeting Pakistanis because “collateral damage worries you Americans. It does not worry me.”
Nawaz Sharif, the next prime minister, “was no different”, he added.

Imran said while Pakistan defeated the terrorist onslaught completely by 2016, the Afghan situation continued to deteriorate.
Explaining the “difference” in the outcomes of the two countries, he said “Pakistan had a disciplined army and intelligence agency, both of which enjoyed popular support.”

In Afghanistan, meanwhile, the lack of legitimacy for an outsider’s protracted war was compounded by a corrupt and inept Afghan government, seen as a puppet regime without credibility, especially by rural Afghans.

“Tragically, instead of facing this reality, the Afghan and Western governments created a convenient scapegoat by blaming Pakistan, wrongly accusing us of providing safe havens to the Taliban and allowing their free movement across our border,” the prime minister said.

He said in order to satisfy Kabul, Pakistan offered a joint border-visibility mechanism, suggested biometric border controls, advocated fencing the border, and other measures.

“Each idea was rejected,” he said, noting that Pakistan had now fenced the border largely "on our own".

“Instead, the Afghan government intensified the ‘blame Pakistan’ narrative, aided by the Indian-run fake news networks operating hundreds of propaganda outlets in multiple countries.”

He emphasised that a more realistic approach would have been “to negotiate with the Taliban much earlier”, avoiding the embarrassment of the collapse of the Afghan army and the Ashraf Ghani government.

He said the right thing for the world now was to engage with the new Afghan government to ensure peace and stability.

The premier noted that the international community desired the inclusion of major ethnic groups in the Afghan government, respect for the rights of all Afghans, and commitments that the Afghan soil would never again be used for terrorism against any country.

“Taliban leaders will have greater reason and ability to stick to their promises if they are assured of the consistent humanitarian and development assistance they need to run the government effectively,” he argued.

Providing such incentives, he said, would also give the outside world additional leverage to continue persuading the Taliban to honour their commitments.

“If we do this right, we could achieve what the Doha peace process aimed at all along: an Afghanistan that is no longer a threat to the world, where Afghans can finally dream of peace after four decades of conflict,” he said.

Otherwise, he said, abandoning Afghanistan as tried before would “inevitably lead to a meltdown”.

“Chaos, mass migration and a revived threat of international terror will be natural corollaries. Avoiding this must surely be our global imperative,” he added.
 

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