'Self-inflicted wound': PM Imran says decision to join Afghan war not made in public interest but for dollars
Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed regret on Tuesday over the decision regarding Pakistan's participation in America's 20-year-long 'war on terror' in Afghanistan, saying it was made not in the public interest but "for dollars".
Speaking to officers at the Foreign Office (FO) after it "successfully" organised the 17th extraordinary session of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers last Sunday to address a looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the premier said he was close to decision-makers back when it had to be decided whether Pakistan should join the 'war on terror'.
"And so, I am well aware of what considerations there were behind the decision. Unfortunately, the people of Pakistan were not a consideration," he added. "The considerations, instead, were the same as in the 1980s, when we participated in the Afghan jihad," he said, referring to the Soviet-Afghan war.
Terming the war a "self-inflicted wound for Pakistan", Prime Minister Imran went on to say, however, that "we cannot blame anyone else for this outcome [of the decision]."
"We ourselves are responsible ... as we let [others] use us, sacrificed the reputation of our country for aid and made a foreign policy that went against the public interest [and was devised] for money."
'Pakistan's image has improved'
At the outset of his speech, the premier congratulated and appreciated the FO for hosting the OIC session on Afghanistan last week in an admirable manner, and said that the response to the summit showed that Pakistan's image had improved globally.
Noting that the FO had organised a summit of such a scale after a long time, he commended it and said it was the result of "teamwork" with a significant contribution from law enforcement agencies.
Envoys from 57 Islamic nations as well as observer delegations had participated in last week's summit.
"The attendance at the summit and the appreciation of Pakistan's stance [at the moot] reflect that the country's image had improved," the premier said, adding that "we have achieved the objective behind hosting the conference."
Prime Minister Imran said Muslim countries' stance on the Afghan situation was the "universal" stance now.
"Look at statements by Europeans, they are standing with us and the UN, too, has a clear stance."
He also credited his government for the "improvement in Pakistan's image".
The premier said: "We faced the biggest financial crunch in Pakistan's history. I don't think any other government was handed down such wide fiscal and current account deficits and then there was also the corona[virus pandemic]. Yet, if you compare where Pakistan stands today [globally] to where it stood three years ago, if you conduct a survey, you will see that the country's image has improved".
'Big atrocity on human level'
On the situation in Afghanistan, the premier said, "It is a big atrocity on the human level that a man-made crisis is being created" in the war-torn country.
"Even when it is known that unfreezing Afghanistan's accounts and [infusing] liquidity [into the country's banking system] will avert the crisis."
The premier said addressing the situation in Afghanistan was important not just because it was Pakistan's neighbour, but "above all [because] the country was facing a humanitarian crisis".
"We have been saying this from day one, from August 15 [when the Taliban seized Kabul], that whether you like the Taliban government on not, the lives of 40 million people are on the brink of destruction," he said.
The prime minister added that Pakistan would continue to provide assistance to Afghanistan in these difficult times.
"Time", he said, "is of the essence and we must provide aid to Afghanistan expeditiously".