Imran Khan says the US will have to recognise the Taliban ‘sooner or later’

Pakistan's prime minister claims Washington is in 'shock and confusion' after militants' takeover of Afghanistan

Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), gestures while addressing his supporters during a campaign meeting ahead of general elections in Karachi, Pakistan, July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
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Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said the US government will have to recognise the Taliban “sooner or later”.

Mr Khan told a Turkish news channel that the US was in a state of “shock and confusion” after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

In a TV interview with state-affiliated TRT World, he said the US public is currently looking for a scapegoat and “unfairly targeting” President Joe Biden.

Mr Khan said that if the US does not unfreeze Afghan reserves, the country could face a “chaotic situation” and that the US has to come up with a solution.

When Mr Khan was asked if he was “pro-Taliban”, he responded that he is “anti-military solutions” and that the only way to solve the conflict in Afghanistan is through peaceful means.

“The big question is: when is the United States going to recognise them (the Taliban government)?” he said.

“Sooner or later they will have to. At the moment, as you can see in the Senate hearing, in the media, there is shock and confusion in the US.

"They are completely surprised by the outcome of, after 20 years, the Taliban coming back again. And (they are) finding scapegoats. I feel (they are) very unfairly targeting President Biden. I think it’s unfair, because what could he do?”

It comes after a senior US official called for Pakistan to take action against all extremist groups. The comments by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman came before a visit to Islamabad, which has sought reconciliation with militants at home and in Afghanistan.

Ms Sherman will meet officials in Pakistan on October 7 and 8.

Pakistan has long faced US accusations of playing a double game in Afghanistan where the Taliban swept back to power in August.

"We seek a strong partnership with Pakistan on counterterrorism and we expect sustained action against all militant and terrorist groups without distinction," Ms Sherman said in Switzerland, her first stop on a trip that will also take her to India and Uzbekistan.

"Both of our countries have suffered terribly from the scourge of terrorism and we look forward to co-operative efforts to eliminate all regional and global terrorist threats.”

Pakistan points to its efforts against militants and the thousands who have died in attacks at home, but it has also faced criticism for not doing more to curb radicals that target neighbour and rival India.

I do not believe in military solutions
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan

Mr Khan, a long-time critic of US military campaigns, said he had opened talks with the Pakistan Taliban about laying down their arms.

"Some of the Pakistani Taliban groups actually want to talk to our government for some peace, for some reconciliation," he told TRT World.

He said the discussions were taking place in Afghanistan with sections of the movement, which has carried out deadly attacks for years.

"I repeat: I do not believe in military solutions," Mr Khan said.

He has encouraged the world to engage Afghanistan's Taliban and provide economic support, although he has stopped short of backing recognition – a step opposed by the US.

Updated: October 03, 2021, 8:42 AM