Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan says his country would never again partner with the United States in war, stressing that Islamabad has suffered so much from the US’s so-called war on terror in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan could be partners with the United States in peace but never in conflict,” Khan said during the National Assembly’s budget session on Wednesday, as he questioned the previous administration’s decision to join the United States “war on terror.”
“When we gave so many services, did they (the Americans) praise us or acknowledge our sacrifices? Instead, they called us a hypocrite and blamed us. Instead of appreciating us, Pakistan was bad-mouthed,” he said.
“We decided to become a front-line state for the American war on terror. I questioned repeatedly, what did we have to do with the war?”
The US was defeated in Afghanistan and tried to shift the blame of its defeat on Pakistan, he said, while noting that Islamabad had sacrificed 70,000 people and wasted $150 billion in the so-called war against terror.
Khan also said Pakistanis were unable to differentiate between their friends and enemies at the time, adding that people living in tribal areas paid a hefty price as they became collateral damage in US drone attacks.
He said that during the war, Islamabad “did not have the courage to say ‘No’ to the US and kept on lying to the people.”
“We must understand that when a nation does not respect itself, it is not respected by the world… we only want peace to prevail in Afghanistan, and that is in our best interest,” the Pakistani prime minister said.
Khan had said previously that his country could not afford to make a mistake again by hosting a US military base to be used against alleged militants in Afghanistan.
Pakistan secretly allowed the US to operate drones over Pakistani territory and from at least one base in the southwest of the country. Islamabad also provided tacit approval for the use of US drone attacks on Pakistani soil, while publicly condemning them, leaked US diplomatic cables showed in 2011.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khan warned that a “very tough time” was coming for Pakistan in view of the situation in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has said that some 5,000 militants belonging to the Pakistani branch of the Taliban, known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), pose a threat to its security from their sanctuaries in the neighboring country.
Earlier this month, Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said that Islamabad expected that the Taliban would not allow groups like the TTP to carry out activities against Pakistan.
The US attacked Afghanistan in 2001, claiming that the Taliban were harboring al-Qaeda militants. The invasion removed a Taliban regime from power but prompted widespread militancy and insecurity across the impoverished country. The war has taken countless lives, including the lives of many Afghan civilians.
The Taliban militants have now intensified attacks in Afghanistan to seize territory again, as foreign forces pull out. They are said to be present in almost every province now and are encircling several major cities.
All foreign troops were supposed to have been withdrawn from Afghanistan by May 1, as part of a deal that the US had reached with the Taliban in the Qatari capital, Doha, last year. US President Joe Biden postponed the full exit of US forces from Afghanistan to September 11.