Current Affairs

Women’s rights in Afghanistan can’t be imposed from outside: PM

It’s a mistake to think that someone from outside can give Afghan women their rights, premier says in an interview with CNN

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said that it is a mistake to think that someone from outside can give Afghan women their rights, saying that the women in the neighboring country are strong and the international community should give them time and they will get their rights themselves.

In an interview with CNN, he said women should have the ability in society to fulfill their potential in life but you cannot impose women’s rights from abroad in Afghanistan.

“I feel very strongly that it is a mistake that someone from outside will give Afghan women rights,” he added.

‘Push them in the right direction’

PM Imran said that the international community should incentivize the Taliban rather than thinking that we can control them. “Afghanistan’s current government clearly feels that without international aid and help, they will not be able to end the crisis… we should push them in the right direction.”

He said that no one can predict where Afghanistan goes from here and one can only hope and pray that they get peace after 40 years of war.

“Taliban have said that they want an inclusive government, they want women rights in their own context, they want human rights, they’ve given amnesty… so far what they’ve said clearly [indicates] they want international acceptability,” he added.

The premier said that it is a “fallacy” to think that Afghanistan can be controlled from the outside. “They have a history… no puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by its people, it gets discredit amongst the people.”

PM Imran said the neighboring country was at a historic crossroads, adding that if the government in Afghanistan can work towards an inclusive government and get all the factions together, the war-torn country could have peace after 40 years. However, he added, if it goes wrong, the country could go to chaos, the biggest humanitarian crisis, and terrorism from its soil.

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‘Biden phone call’

To a question regarding US President Joe Biden’s expected phone call to him over the Afghan crisis, PM Imran said that he hasn’t called him since he’s a “busy man”. “I spoke to him (Biden) when he was Senator Joe Biden way back in 2008,” he added.

The interviewer then asked was the US punishing Pakistan by not talking with you for supporting the Taliban? The premier responded by saying that “you have to ask him [Biden] since he’s too busy to call”.

“But let me just say one thing. I heard there’s a Senate hearing going on during which US Secretary of State [Anthony] Blinken was asked all these questions. I want to say this and I hope American politicians are listening to this… you know Pakistan is [that] country [which] just because we sided with the US, we became an ally with the US after 9/11 in the war in Afghanistan, we went through the worst suffering.”

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Pak-US ties in historic perspective

PM Imran said that at one point there were 50 militant groups attacking the government just because Pakistan supported the US. “In the 80s, Pakistan joined the US against the Soviets. We trained the Mujahideen to do Jihad in Afghanistan. Amongst them were al Qaeda… the Taliban were part of the Mujahideen groups. We trained them that fighting against foreign occupation is a sacred duty. Fast forward to 9/11, the US needed us in Afghanistan. [Former US president] George Bush asks Pakistan for help and he famously said we will not abandon Afghanistan again. Pakistan joined the US war in Afghanistan. Was I the prime minister at that time I would’ve never ever done that?”

He said that after the US invaded Afghanistan, we told the same Mujahideen that what they were doing was terrorism, which he added turned them against Pakistan.

“The Pashtun nationalism kicked in on our side of the border in the tribal belt. They had all sympathies with the Taliban not because of religious ideology … you have to understand what happened and I really want people to know… they turned against the Pakistan Army as collaborators so the Jihadis turned against us, the Pashtuns turned against us, and the more we tried the military operations in civilian areas, we had more collateral damage… we had 50 militant groups attacking us and on top of it … they must also know… there were 480 drone attacks in Pakistan by the US… that’s the only time a country has been attacked by its own ally.”

Origin of Haqqani Network

To a question regarding the trust deficit between the West and Pakistan, PM Imran said that it was a complete ignorance on their part. “The Americans did not understand what the Haqqani network was … Haqqani network is a tribe… it is a Pashtun tribe living in Afghanistan. 40 years ago, when Afghan Jihad took place, we had five million Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Amongst them a few were Haqqanis and Haqqanis were the Mujahideen fighting the Soviets… they were born in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan,” he added.

The premier said there were three million people living in Afghan refugee camps and “we were supposed to check which one of them were Taliban and which were not.”

On a question about the alleged involvement of Pakistan intelligence agencies with the matter of Taliban, the premier said that Pakistan simply does not have a budget to fund another war.

“You know the total budget of Pakistan? It is $50 billion for 220 million people… Americans were spending $300 million a day… they spent $2 trillion [in total]… did we had the capacity to fund another war? We can barely meet our own expenses,” he added.

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