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Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan. Image Credit: Instagram

Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an interview that the war on terror by the United States “actually bred terrorists” in different regions of the world, including Pakistan. The prime minister made the comments on Sunday during a CNN interview responding to a question on the surge in terrorism in the Middle East and Pakistan-Afghanistan region despite the withdrawal of US forces.

The Pakistani prime minister cited the example of his own country, where he said 80,000 people lost their lives after Pakistan joined the US in the war on terror.

“Well, the US war on terror actually bred terrorists and by joining the US war on terror, Pakistan lost 80,000 people.

“And we saw the war, as it went along, it produced more terrorists. And I am convinced it is exactly the same what happened in Afghanistan because of these night raids in Afghanistan, the drone attacks,” PM Khan said, urging that the United States “must review” its policy of drone strikes.

Pakistan bore brunt of US war on terror

“We watched what happened here. They were telling people in the US that drones were very accurate and they actually got the terrorists,” he regretted. “Bombs exploding in villages, you know how, how would they only get terrorists?”

Khan said he was afraid that the American people do not know about these drone strikes that caused a “lot of collateral damage”.

Pakistan, being a US ally in the war on terror, suffered the most in the form of revenge attacks by terrorists. “We bore the brunt because what happened was we were considered collaborators of the US. So, all the revenge attacks were against the Pakistani soldiers and the people of Pakistan,” PM Khan said.

“There were suicide attacks going all over the country. We lost 80,000 people.” When asked why terrorism continues even after the withdrawal of American troops, Khan said “terrorism was almost insignificant now” compared to what used to happen during the height of the war on terror.

Afghanistan situation

Discussing the Afghanistan situation, the Pakistani prime minister said the US must understand that “disliking the Taliban government is one thing but it was a question of almost 40 million Afghans” half of whom “are in a very precarious situation. They are facing winter, there are food shortages, malnutrition” as the situation was already “developing into one of the worst humanitarian crises.”

On the issue of dealing with the Taliban, he said there was no alternative to the Taliban in Afghanistan currently. “The only alternative we have right now is to work with them and incentivise them in what the world wants, inclusive government, human rights, women rights,” the PM said. “That’s the only way forward right now.”

He contended continuing sanctions and abandoning the people of Afghanistan could force the country to go into chaos and humanitarian crisis. Such a situation is extremely worrying for Pakistan as “we already have 3 million Afghan refugees. There are three terrorist groups operating from Afghanistan into Pakistan” including TTP, Baloch insurgents and [Daesh].

“Our best hope is that a stable Afghanistan will ensure stability or peace in Pakistan. It’s in everyone’s interest that it doesn’t descend into chaos.”