Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the country was treated like a “hired gun” by the United States during its war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, CNN reported. In an interview to the news channel, Khan made the comment when asked if he had spoken to US President Joe Biden since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
“I would imagine he [Biden] is very busy, but our relationship with the US is not just dependent on a phone call, it needs to be a multidimensional relationship,” Khan said.
He then added that the two countries did not share such a relationship during America’s war in Afghanistan.
“We [Pakistan] were like a hired gun,” Khan said. “We were supposed to make them [the US] win the war in Afghanistan, which we never could.”
Khan said that the US’ invasion of Afghanistan proved to be “disastrous” for Pakistan. He said thousands of Pakistanis were killed because the Taliban and its affiliates saw them as an ally of the US.
“Just because we sided with the US, we became an ally of the US after 9/11 [terrorist attack at the World Trade Centre] and the war in Afghanistan,” he told CNN. “The suffering this country went through with at one point there were 50 militant groups attacking our government.”
Besides the attacks from militant groups, Khan said, that Pakistan also faced 480 drone attacks by the US during the war. “Only time a country has been attacked by its ally,” Khan added.
The Pakistan prime minister said that he had repeatedly warned US officials that they would be “stuck” in Afghanistan and would not be able to achieve their military objectives in the country. He suggested that the US should have tried to reach a political settlement with the Taliban from a “position of strength”.
Khan also criticised US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s comment that they would reassess ties with Pakistan following the withdrawal of the country’s troops from Afghanistan. Earlier this week, Blinken had said that Pakistan had a “multiplicity of interests”, some of which were in conflict to those of the US.
“It [Pakistan’s interests] is one that is involved [in] hedging its bets constantly about the future of Afghanistan, it is one that’s involved harbouring members of the Taliban,” Blinken had said, according to Reuters.
When asked to respond to this, Khan told CNN: “I have never heard such ignorance.”
He also dismissed allegations about Pakistan providing shelter to terrorists.
“What are these safe havens?” Khan asked during the interview. “The area of Pakistan along the border of Afghanistan had the heaviest surveillance by the United States drones...Surely they would have known if there were any safe havens?”