US can work with a Taliban govt in Afghanistan for peace in region: PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan has taken the stance that US President Joe Biden’s hardline stance against the Taliban within Afghanistan is “unnecessary”, adding that the US and Taliban could work together to create peace.

The premier noted that — keeping in mind the rapidly evolving dynamics of the country since the Taliban takeover — cooperation between regional powers and the United States is crucial in avoiding a catastrophe during an interview with Newsweek’s Senior Foreign Policy Writer Tom O’Connor.

PM Imran Khan on the occasion confirmed that Pakistan is a “willing companion” of the US in counterterrorism and other endeavours.

Talking about the Taliban assuming complete power for the first time in 40 years, he said this might lead to a stable security situation in the country.

The premier hoped the Taliban government would open up possibilities for trade and development projects.

PM Imran Khan, however, noted that despite hope, past governments had left the war-torn country in shambles. The premier also stressed the need to neutralise terrorist groups in Afghanistan, especially the TTP.

The prime minister noted that Pakistan and the US would need to work to counter terrorism in Afghanistan. He also stressed addressing the humanitarian crisis and economic issues of the country.

“I believe that the US can work with a new government in Afghanistan to promote common interests and regional stability,” the prime minister said.

The Afghans will accept China’s economic support if Beijing offers, he said, adding that the group had also welcomed the prospects the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor offers and the establishment of close relations with Beijing.

On recognising the Taliban government, he said Pakistan aims to reach a decision in this regard after consultations with neighbouring countries. The premier noted that the group had formed an interim government, but once they establish control across the country, “it would legally qualify for recognition”.

The prime minister said Islamabad was extremely concerned about the threat of terrorism from Afghanistan — particularly from the TTP. The terrorist group was has been responsible for scores of attacks and killing several innocent people.

“There is indeed a plethora of terrorist groups which, taking advantage of the conflict in Afghanistan, located themselves in that country,” the prime minister said.

“Pakistan desires to promote a comprehensive, not selective, approach to neutralising terrorists’ threats from Afghanistan. We will cooperate with the international community, including the US, in this effort,” he said.

Speaking about America’s interest in the region, he said Pakistan understood that Washington’s military support to India is designed to contain China, including through the so-called Quad.

“Pakistan has its own views on the credibility of this strategy,” he said, adding: “In our view, India will never confront China, especially not to serve US strategic objectives.”

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