Washington: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said his country’s military “fears” a “two-front situation” with India and Afghanistan, adding that the leadership had called for strategic depth in their military doctrine to avoid being “sandwiched between India and Afghanistan”.
Responding to another question on Afghanistan, Imran said his government had decided to put an end to the decades-old policy of interfering in Afghan politics to avert the danger that Pakistan might someday confront an Afghan-Indian alliance.
“The fear amongst the Pakistani military establishment was always that there would be a two-front situation…you know, the eastern front, which is India. And then, if Afghanistan was also in the Indian sphere of influence, then Pakistan would be sandwiched between these two,” Imran said.
The Pakistani security doctrine had sought “what was called the ‘strategic depth’ of being able to influence Afghan affairs”, he said, adding, “But this has changed. Today, we feel that by interfering in Afghanistan in order to secure the strategic depth, we have actually done a lot of damage to our own country and…we have become partisan in Afghanistan’s internal affairs.”
The Pakistani prime minister , who was accompanied by his top military officers during his three-day official visit to the US, said that he spoke for Pakistan’s army in saying that “we should not ever interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan”.
“Let the Afghans decide what they want, what sort of government they want and we should facilitate the peace process. So, this is the big difference. Now, we are all on the same page. And fortunately, now the United States is on the same page too,” he said.
Imran Khan said he had previously declined to meet the Afghan Taliban leaders, following objections by the Afghan government.
“But now, when I go back after meeting President (Donald) Trump, and also, I have spoken to (Afghan) President (Ashraf) Ghani, now I will meet the Taliban and try my best to get them to talk to the Afghan government,” he said.
Eventual peace talks, Imran said, should lead to “an inclusive (Afghan) election where the Taliban…also participate.”