‘Treated like a hired gun’: Pakistan PM Imran Khan reacts to US criticism on Afghan crisis – The Indian Express


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In an interview with CNN, one of his first since the Taliban takeover, Khan batted for engagement with the fighters to ensure stability and peace in Afghanistan. He revealed he has not spoken with US President Joe Biden since the Taliban takeover, despite the two countries being close allies for years.

“I would imagine he’s very busy, but our relationship with the US is not just dependent on a phone call, it needs to be a multi-dimensional relationship,” Khan said in the interview.

Reacting to criticism levelled against Pakistan by several US lawmakers, Khan said, “We were supposed to make them (the US) win the war in Afghanistan, which we never could.”

“We (Pakistan) were like a hired gun,” he added.

Khan’s comments follow US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s congressional hearing on Monday, in which he told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee that US will consider its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks. The Biden-administration has been under fire over its botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, with several senators expressing concern over the role played by Islamabad.

Blinken told lawmakers that Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests” in Afghanistan, including “some that are in conflict” with the US.

“It (Pakistan) is one that is involved (in) hedging its bets constantly about the future of Afghanistan, it’s one that’s involved (in) harbouring members of the Taliban…,” Binken said, according to a Reuters report. “It is one that’s also involved in different points (of) cooperation with us on counterterrorism,” he added.

Denying allegations that Pakistan is harbouring Taliban members, Khan told CNN: “The area of Pakistan along the border of Afghanistan had the heaviest surveillance by the US drones… surely they would have known if there were any safe havens?”

Khan said his country had suffered for its cooperation with the US.

“Just because we sided with the US, we became an ally of the US after 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. The suffering this country went through, at one point there were 50 militant groups attacking our government… On top of it, they must also know there were 480 drone attacks by the US in Pakistan,” he said, adding that it is the “only time a country has been attacked by its ally.”

He also defended Pakistan’s stance against military action in the neighbouring country.


“The question is, was Pakistan in a position to take military action against the Afghan Taliban when it was already being attacked from inside, from the Pakistani Taliban who were attacking the state of Pakistan?” Khan said.

“The Afghan Taliban weren’t attacking us. I wish if I was in government. I would have told the US that we are not going to take them on militarily because first, we have to serve the people. My responsibility would have been to the people of my country,” Khan told CNN.

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