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‘Taliban Are Normal Civilians,’ Says Pakistan PM Imran Khan

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New Delhi: At a time when the US troops are pulling out from Afghanistan leaving the country in turmoil, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed the country for “really messing it up” by initially looking for a military solution and later tried to seek a political solution from a position of weakness.

Pakistan PM while talking to PBS NewsHour said that the US should have reached a political solution amid the presence of Nato forces in Afghanistan when it was at an all-time high instead when the troops had been reduced and stand “barely” at 10,000.

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“I think the US has really messed it up in Afghanistan,” Khan told PBS NewsHour, according to news agency ANI.

While suggesting that an “inclusive” political settlement bringing all factions together including the Taliban, will be the “only good outcome” for Afghanistan, he said Pakistan has been long accused of helping the Taliban militarily, financially and with intelligence inputs. He dismissed these charges as “extremely unfair”.

The PM also brought out the state of Afghanistan saying thousands of Pakistanis lost their lives in the aftermath of the US war in Afghanistan when “Pakistan had nothing to do with what happened” on September 11, 2001, in New York.

On probed regarding the latest report of 10,000 Pakistani fighters crossing over the border to help the Taliban, he said, “This is absolute nonsense. Why don’t they give us evidence of this?” Khan pointed out that Pakistan hosts three million Aghan refugees of which the majority are Pashtuns, the same ethnic group as the Taliban fighters.

“Now, there are camps of 500,000 people, there are camps of 100,000 people. And Taliban are not some military outfits, they are normal civilians. And if there are some civilians in these camps, how is Pakistan supposed to hunt these people down? How can you call them sanctuaries?” he argued.

As per the UN Security Council, about 6,000 terrorists of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) are operating on the Afghan side of the border. While the TTP has “distinctive anti-Pakistan objectives”, it also supports the Afghan Taliban militants inside Afghanistan against Afghan Forces, the report by the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team said.

Meanwhile, China told a visiting Taliban delegation that it expected the insurgent group to play an important role in ending Afghanistan’s war and rebuilding the country.

Nine Taliban representatives met Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin on a two-day visit during which the peace process and security issues were discussed, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

Wang aslo hoped the Taliban would crackdown on the East Turkestan Islamic Movement as it was a “direct threat to China’s national security,” according to the readout, referring to a group China says is active in the Xinjiang region in China’s far west.

“(The) delegation assured China that they will not allow anyone to use Afghan soil against China,” Taliban spokesperson Mohammed Naeem said, according to Reuters. “China also reiterated its commitment of continuation of their assistance with Afghans and said they will not interfere in Afghanistan’s issues but will help to solve the problems and restoration of peace in the country.”

The visit was likely to further cement the insurgent group’s recognition on the international stage at a sensitive time even as violence increases in Afghanistan.

(With Agency Inputs)

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