Pakistan’s PM says ‘US really messed it up’ in Afghanistan

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan said the United States “really messed it up in Afghanistan” and that Washington should have pushed for a political settlement much earlier.

In an interview with PBS News Hour on Tuesday night, Khan sai: “I think the US has really messed it up in Afghanistan.”

“And people like me who kept saying that there’s no military solution, who know the history of Afghanistan, we were called — people like me were called anti-American. I was called Taliban Khan.”

He said by the time the US realised that there was no military solution in Afghanistan, “unfortunately, the bargaining power of the Americans or the NATO had gone”.

Khan told PBS the US should have opted for a political settlement much earlier, when there were as many as 150,000 Nato troops in Afghanistan.

“But once they had reduced the troops to barely 10,000, and then, when they gave an exit date, the Taliban thought they had won. And so, therefore, it was very difficult for now to get them to compromise,” he said.

When the interviewer asked whether he thought the Taliban resurgence was a positive development for Afghanistan, the prime minister reiterated that the only good outcome would be a political settlement, “which is inclusive”.

“Obviously, Taliban [will be] part of that government,” he added.

Khan said from Pakistan’s point of view, the last thing they want is a civil war; “that is the worst-case scenario, because we then … we face two scenarios, one [of them being] a refugee problem,” he said.

“Already, Pakistan is hosting over three million Afghan refugees. And what we fear is that a protracted civil war would [bring] more refugees. And our economic situation is not such that we can have another influx.”