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Failure to Engage with Taliban may push the Group 20 years Back: Premier Imran Khan

October 13, 2021

Prime Minister Imran Khan emphasized the importance of the international community engaging with the Taliban, saying that failure to do so could set the group back 20 years.

In an interview with Middle East Eye, the premier discussed a variety of issues, including the current situation in Afghanistan, relations with the US, Indian actions in occupied Kashmir, and allegations against China regarding the treatment of Uighurs.

PM Imran emphasized the importance of the international community engaging with the Taliban government in Afghanistan, saying that the country had been devastated by 20 years of civil war. He stated that after so many years, Taliban members who had made sacrifices would want to be rewarded by being elevated in the government’s hierarchy.Yet, the government is clearly trying to gain international acceptance, so it wants an inclusive government, talks about human rights, and refuses to allow its soil to be used for terrorism by anyoneadding that it was a critical point for the war-torn country.

“The world must engage with Afghanistan,” he said, warning of the consequences of failing to do so.

He stated that if Afghanistan descended into chaos once more, it would become a breeding ground for terrorists such as ISIS, which is a concern for all countries in the region.It would be a colossal waste; what would the United States have to show after 20 years? As a result, the only option left is for a stable Afghanistan government to take on ISIS, and the Taliban are the best bet to do so.He claimed that isolating and sanctioning Afghanistan would cause a massive humanitarian crisis.

“My concern is that if they are left like this, [Afghanistan] will revert to 1989, when the Soviets and Americans left,” he said, adding that over 200,000 Afghans died in that chaos.PM Imran went on to say that the US needed topull itself together after the shock of the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan.

“I don’t think they’ve found their feet yet,” he said, adding that the chaos in Afghanistan would hurt Pakistan as well.When asked about Pakistan’s reaction to the Taliban takeover, Prime Minister stated, “We have been so relieved because we expected a bloodbath […] it was a peaceful transfer of power.”

The premier attributed the lack of resistance from the Afghan army to a variety of factors, including the former government’s corruption.When asked about the lack of inclusiveness in the new government structure, the prime minister admitted that it was not presentright now,but hoped it would be in the future, adding that it was necessary because Afghanistan was a diverse society.Similarly, on the issue of women’s rights, he stated that the Taliban should be incentivized to “walk the walk,” noting that the group had stated that it would allow women to work and get an education.

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