Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (Web Desk) – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan has urged Afghan Taliban to negotiate a peaceful resolution to its conflict with the Kabul government.

“They (the Taliban) must come to the table and they must resolve this dispute through talks and negotiations. War is never a solution,” Khan said in an interview with Voice of America (VOA).

Khan added: “In fact, war leads to unintended consequences just like in Iraq and Syria.

“Now you see the emergence of ISIS or Daesh, and God knows where this is going to go. This is a direct result of that insane US invasion of Iraq,” he said, using an acronym for the terrorist group.

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The PTI chairman further said some representatives of the Afghan Taliban, a few years ago, had approached him for assistance because they wanted to open peace negotiations with the then Afghan government.

But he said he believes the US persistently relied on military power to defeat the insurgency, effectively discouraging the Taliban from seeking political reconciliation.

“Now, when they (Taliban) think the Americans are leaving they are now obviously pushing for a much harder bargain. They are not willing to accept the terms they would have accepted then,” Khan said.

Khan praised a recently launched four-nation peace process, involving Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States, trying to resurrect direct peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

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“I think it is a very positive thing. We hope and we pray that there is some sort of peace deal, some sort of a power sharing agreement and then the Americans leave,” he said.

Imran Khan emphasised the need for both Pakistan and Afghanistan to remove tensions in bilateral ties and build mutual trust to jointly tackle the security challenges facing them.

“I am very sad that the relationship is not good and I am also sad to say that Pakistan is to blame. We did not have consistent policies dealing with Afghanistan and then the interference in the past in affairs of Afghans has caused a lot of bad blood,” he said.

“I think in future I see very good relationship between the two countries. I think there is a realization in Pakistan that the mistakes were made. We feel that we have to correct this bad blood caused by flawed policies,” Khan said.

He also acknowledged that Afghan refugees residing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have lately come under severe pressure from the provincial police, and in some cases refugee families have been forced to go back to Afghanistan against their will.

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Khan asserted links between anti-Pakistan militants based on the Afghan side of the border and some of recent deadly terrorist attacks in the province have caused resentment in the local population against Afghan refugees and prompted increased police security actions in the community.

He insisted the PTI provincial government has taken significant steps to control the fallout on Afghan refugees but Khan said he is strongly opposed to their forced repatriation.

“Because clearly there is a reason why they are staying (in Pakistan), things still have not settled in Afghanistan and I will add my voice to all those who are against forced repatriation of the Afghan refugees.”