ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Tuesday berated the coalition government for issuing “irresponsible statements” against the Taliban-led Afghan administration and stressed cooperation with the neighbouring nation.
Islamabad has repeatedly raised concerns over Kabul’s harbouring of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants and not implementing its promise of ensuring that its soil is not used for terrorism.
TTP has ended the ceasefire with Pakistan and increased terror activities across the country, leaving several people dead and scores injured, despite the government’s “zero-tolerance” policy.
“Ministers are issuing irresponsible statements that they are planning to attack Afghanistan; if the Afghan government stops cooperation with [Pakistan], then we will have a never-ending war on our hands,” Khan told a seminar, which he addressed via video link from Lahore.
Khan, who was ousted as the prime minister in April, had advocated for the world to engage with the Taliban administration and not isolate them or it would lead to not only regional, but global consequences.
The PTI chief said the coalition government was not focusing on talks with its Afghan counterpart and that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s first foreign trip should have been to the war-torn neighbouring country.
The former prime minister said military operations “never” bear fruit and they are part of peace agreements, as he reiterated that the government should engage with the Taliban to avoid terror activities on Pakistani soil.
“We had a golden opportunity when America left Afghanistan; we tried to better our ties with the Ashraf Ghani government as best as we could and decided not to intervene in Afghan affairs,” he said.
But once the Taliban took over, Khan also kept engaging with them, and he said that “Pakistan helped evacuate foreigners from Afghanistan”.
Slamming the “imported government” for the rising terror incidents, he said that during his tenure, the National Security Committee (NSC) had divided to support the tribal areas, but the current regime did not focus on them.
“These people [current rulers] are focusing on ending their corruption cases. They have not focused on the economy,” he said, claiming that due to the government’s policies, there has been a rise in terrorism.
The PTI chief said that controlling the borders is the federal government’s responsibility and noted that “I had already said that when you can’t control your economy, you cannot control terrorism”.
Ex-PM Khan added that the police do not stand a chance against the terrorists due to their weapons. “Terrorists are equipped with modern weapons that the US left behind.”
The nation of 220 million people is facing a rise in terrorism from the last few months, with the NSC — the top body on security and foreign policy — stressing that “terrorists are enemies of Pakistan”.
The TTP regrouped in Afghanistan after the Taliban’s takeover, with Pakistan repeatedly asking the interim government in the neighbouring country to ensure that its soil isn’t used for terrorism. But the Taliban-led government has not been able to live up to the expectations.
The activities of militants have been mainly focused in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, with the former accounting for 31% of the attacks in the last year and the latter 67%, according to stats provided by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.
In its annual report, the Center for Research and Security Studies (CRSS) said that Pakistan saw as many as 376 terror attacks in the last year. A majority of these attacks were claimed by banned terror outfits such as TTP, Daesh, and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA).