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International community must engage with Taliban, incentivise them on women''s rights, inclusive govt: Imran Khan

The Taliban had promised an "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan''s complex ethnic makeup, but there is no Hazara member in the Cabinet. No woman has been named in the interim Cabinet.

Photo Credit : Bloomberg

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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the international community must engage with the Taliban and "incentivise" them on issues such as women''s rights and an inclusive Afghan government to prevent the conflict-torn nation from ending up in chaos.

Speaking to CNN from his private Bani Gala residence in Islamabad on Wednesday, Khan said that Afghanistan was on a historic crossroads.

He asserted that the best way forward for peace and stability in the war-torn country is to engage with the Taliban, which seized Kabul last month.

"The Taliban hold all of Afghanistan and if they can sort of now work towards an inclusive government, get all the factions together, Afghanistan could have peace after 40 years," he said.

"But if it goes wrong (in Afghanistan), and which is what we are really worried about, it could go to chaos, the biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem, unstable Afghanistan and [...] the possibility of again terrorism from Afghanistan''s soil,” Khan said.

Khan suggested that the Taliban should be given incentives to handle the current situation instead of being forced to do something, calling it a "fallacy" that Afghanistan could be controlled from outside.

"So rather than sitting here and thinking that we can control them, we should incentivise them because this current government in Afghanistan clearly feels that without international aid and help they will not be able to stop this crisis. We should push them in the right direction,” he said.

Khan insisted that the world should "give them (the Taliban) time" to form a legitimate government and make good on their promises.

The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in mid-August, ousting the previous elected leadership which was backed by the West. The interim Cabinet consists of high-profile members of the insurgent group.

At least 14 members of the Taliban''s interim government are on the UN Security Council''s terrorism blacklist, including acting Prime Minister Mullah Hasan and his both deputies.

The Taliban had promised an "inclusive" government that represents Afghanistan''s complex ethnic makeup, but there is no Hazara member in the Cabinet. No woman has been named in the interim Cabinet.

"Our intelligence agencies told us that the Taliban would not be able to take over all of Afghanistan, and if they tried to take Afghanistan militarily, there would be a protracted civil war, which is what we were scared of because we are the ones who would suffer the most," Khan said.

He was asked about apprehensions that the Taliban will not protect human rights and the future of Afghanistan.

Khan said the Taliban have said that they want an inclusive government and promised to give rights to their women and also announced amnesty as part of efforts to gain international acceptability.

Talking about the issue of women rights in Afghanistan, Khan said it was a mistake to think that the rights of Afghan women can be imposed from outside. “Afghan women are strong. Give them time, they will get their rights," he said.

He recalled that history showed "no puppet government in Afghanistan is supported by the people".

Khan reiterated that Pakistan suffered a lot after joining the US war on terror and there was a time about 50 militant groups were attacking Pakistan.

To a question, the premier said that he had not spoken to US President Joe Biden since the collapse of the Afghan government.

When asked why Biden hadn''t called him since coming into office, the premier curtly said: "He is a busy man" and later said Biden should be asked "why he is too busy to call". 

(PTI)


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