Pakistan’s NSA claims P.M. Khan has pursued new policy under which Islamabad will only stand for its own interests
Pakistan is not advocating sustained engagement with the Taliban in Afghanistan because it is “pro-Taliban,” National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf claimed on Wednesday, stressing that dialogue was the “only way” to solve the Afghanistan situation.
“They [U.S. and NATO forces] bought New Delhi and Kabul’s narrative—lock, stock, and barrel—and this is what they have gotten for it,” he said, referring to the complete withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August. If the West had adopted a non-military strategy, he said in an interview with Global Village Space, it could have avoided “embarrassment.”
The NSA said that Pakistan, under Prime Minister Imran Khan, had established a new paradigm under which the country would “never be up for sale” and would stand for its own interests. “Pakistan is going to stand for what its interests are, not emotively but very pragmatically,” he said. “This has invited much criticism, with many deeming it a mistake, but it is true—Pakistan no longer will host bases,” he said, referring to speculation that the U.S. had asked Pakistan to allow it the use of military bases on its soil to stage counter-terrorism operations in Afghanistan.
He claimed Pakistan had now become a “melting pot” of global economic interests due to its shift to geo-economics. He reiterated the hope that peace in Afghanistan would allow it to establish a corridor connecting Pakistan to central Asia. He alleged that India had utilized Afghan intelligence to foment terrorism in Pakistan, stressing that the Taliban had been informed this was unacceptable. The new rulers of Afghanistan, he said, had pledged to not allow their soil to be used against Pakistan.
To a question on recognizing the Taliban government, he said Islamabad’s calls for sustained engagement did not require any formal recognition. “The world comes to us and says, ‘please help us evacuate thousands of people,’ and the same world says, ‘please do not engage’. How is this possible?” he said, adding that if the world was motivated by self-interest, so was Pakistan.
Yusuf stressed that the Afghan conflict had been an “unwinnable war” for 20 years, which “some wanted Pakistan to win for them,” adding that this was an unrealistic expectation. “If there is a condition which Pakistan does not feel to be in its interest, we will not go for it,” he said, adding that Islamabad had consistently emphasized that the war in Afghanistan could not be won militarily.
To a question on bilateral ties between Pakistan and the U.S., the NSA said that his meetings with Americans officials had agreed upon a blueprint on how to move forward on commerce, investment, climate, and health. To concerns about Pakistan being caught between the U.S. and China, he stressed that Islamabad was “not in any camp,” adding that it wanted positive ties with all countries. He reiterated that the Pak-U.S. relationship could not be limited to its ties with Afghanistan, India or China.
“It has to be a bilateral relationship, a give and take as equals where mutual interests lie. That has to be worked out now,” he said, adding that Washington could no longer utilize any civil-military disconnect to get what it desired. “There is no civil-military disconnect anymore, and a coordinated effort is in place,” he claimed.
On China, the NSA said it was a key pillar of Pakistan’s vision for regional connectivity through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. He said Pakistan wanted the U.S., China and Russia to invest in it, adding that they should all work together to figure out what companies could yield positive benefits here.