Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said it is important to incentivise the Taliban so that the new rulers of Afghanistan fulfil the promises they made after they seized power in Kabul last month. The Taliban are yet to get international recognition. The heavily armed group have promised an inclusive government, a more moderate form of Islamic rule than that of their previous regime from 1996 to 2001, including respecting women’s rights.
However, their recent moves indicate that they are returning to their repressive policies, particularly toward women.
According to an official statement, Khan in an article published in US-based The Washington Post newspaper on Monday said the world desired an inclusive Afghan government, respect for the rights, and commitments that Afghan soil shall never again be used for terrorism.
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 said.
Khan said providing incentives 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.
The prime minister said abandoning Afghanistan as tried before would 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 said. He said Pakistan must not be blamed for the outcome of war in Afghanistan and for the losses of the US and stressed on setting eyes on the future to avoid another conflict.
Khan recalled that since 2001, he repeatedly warned that the Afghan war was unwinnable and pointed out that given their history, Afghans would never accept a protracted foreign military presence. He pointed out that after the defeat of the Soviets, the US abandoned Afghanistan and sanctioned Pakistan, leaving behind over five million Afghan refugees in Pakistan and a bloody civil war in Afghanistan.
He said former Pakistan leader Pervez Musharraf offered logistics and air bases after 9/11, allowing a CIA footprint in Pakistan and even turned a blind eye to American drone attacks in Pakistan. Taliban were ousted from power in 2001 by a US-led coalition after the 9/11 attacks for harbouring al-Qaida. The United States withdrew all its forces from Afghanistan last month in a chaotic airlift that ended America’s forever war" in the landlocked country.
Khan said for the Afghan people, the US was an occupier of their country just like the Soviets. He said the Taliban declared war against Pakistan after its support to the US war on terror. Between 2006 and 2015, nearly 50 militant groups declared jihad on the Pakistani state, conducting over 16,000 terrorist attacks on us.
In Afghanistan, Khan said, 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. The prime minister 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.
Khan urged the world to engage with the new Afghan government for the sake of peace and stability.