PM Imran Khan on Friday joined regional leaders at a conference held in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent, aimed towards reinforcing close ties among the Central and South Asian nations.
The Plenary meeting of the gathering named ‘Central and South Asia Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities’ held at Congress Center, was attended by President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, the foreign ministers and high representatives of the countries of Central and South Asia, and the heads of international and regional organizations and global financial institutions.
Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI and President of Afghanistan @AshrafGhani met on the sidelines of Central and South Asia 2021: Regional Connectivity: Challenges and Opportunities’ conference#PMIKinUzbekistan pic.twitter.com/nDy5WbCvIv
— Prime Minister's Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) July 16, 2021
During the meeting, PM Khan responded to Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani’s remark on Pakistan’s negative role in Afghan Peace process.
“To blame Pakistan for what is going on in Afghanistan is extremely unfair.” PM Khan said.
After finishing his speech, PM Khan explained the factors that led to the current state of Afghanistan. He also reiterated that Pakistan suffered 70,000 casualties in the last 15 years and the last thing the country wants is more conflict.
He said that the Taliban now refuses to make any compromise ever since they received final troops withdrawal dates from the United States. This move has actually given them a sense of victory to the Taliban.
“When there were 150,000 NATO troops that was the time to ask the Taliban to come to the table. Why were the Taliban going to compromise once the exit date was given? Why would they listen to us when they are sensing victory?” the prime minister questioned.
According to Imran Khan, no country has ever tried so hard to bring the Taliban for a dialogue to table. “We have made every effort, short of taking military action against the Taliban in Pakistan, to get them on the dialogue table and to have a peaceful settlement in Afghanistan.”
Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that the only purpose of his last visit to Afghanistan was to help in establishing peace, and further said that the current circumstance in Afghanistan was a consequence of more than twenty years of conflict.
Pakistan to host Afghan Peace Conference
The prime minister’s comments come a day before Pakistan is due to host a three-day conference on Afghanistan to give another chance for efforts of peace. The conference will last from 17-19 July. Afghanistan’s political leadership has been invited to the conference.
Read more: What’s next for Afghanistan after US exit?
According to media reports, 21 prominent Afghan leaders including Abdullah Abdullah, Karim Khalili, Mohammad Younus Qanooni, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Salahuddin Rabbani, Ismail Khan, Ata Mohammad Noor, Sayed Hamed Gailani, Sayed Eshaq Gailani, Batur Dostum and Mirwais Yasini have been invited to the conference in Islamabad.