KABUL: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said his country had mistakenly backed one of the warring factions in the conflict in Afghanistan in 1990s – a thinly-veiled reference to Pakistan’s siding with the Taliban and recognition of their de facto government.
“In the past, Pakistan made a mistake by choosing between warring Afghan parties, but we have learned from that experience. History proves that Afghanistan can never be controlled from the outside,” he said.
Pakistan was one of three countries in the 1990s that recognized the Taliban Islamic Emirate.
In a note to the Washington Post, the Pakistani prime minister said that Pakistan was ready to work with any government which appeals to the Afghan people.
Imran Khan said that Pakistan will work with the United States for counterterrorism operations but won’t allow any US bases in its soil. “If Pakistan is to agree to build US bases on its soil and conduct military operations in Afghanistan from there, terrorist groups will target Pakistan for revenge,” Khan said. The Taliban have previously reacted to reports that they would not be silenced if US bases were moved to one of the countries in the region and military operations were carried out in Afghanistan.
As the Taliban are making gains in the battlefield against the backdrop of withdrawing American forces, Imran Khan said that Pakistan was against any military takeover of Afghanistan and that the Taliban cannot win over all Afghanistan and must be included in any government for it to succeed.
But there have always been doubts deeply entrenched in Kabul government about Pakistan’s approach towards Afghanistan, most with recent example being the long-stalled negotiations with the Taliban. Afghan government has long accused Pakistan of sabotaging peace efforts and perpetuating insurgency in the country.