Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed regret over his country’s past dealings with the United States, asserting that Pakistan will not act as a ‘hired gun’ for the US anymore.
“I would never want to have a relationship where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun — given money to fight someone else’s war. We should never put ourselves in this position again,” said Khan in a Washington Post interview published on Thursday.
Responding to US claims that Pakistan has been harboring militants within its borders, Khan stressed that his country had in fact served the US by participating in the so-called war on terror, a war Islamabad had “nothing to do with”.
“If we had stayed neutral after 9/11, I reckon we would have saved ourselves from the devastation that took place afterward. By becoming the front-line state for the US in the war on terror, this country went through hell,” said Khan.
“It not only cost us human lives, devastation of our tribal areas, but it also cost us our dignity.”
Khan’s revisionist comments on US relations come as the Pakistani premier had a heated exchange with US President Donald Trump earlier last month.
Khan rejected Trump’s accusation that Pakistan had done “nothing” to fight terrorism despite receiving “billions” in US aid, underlining US failure in ending conflict in Afghanistan after spending nearly two decades in the country.
Trump’s controversial comments on Pakistan’s anti-terrorism efforts come amid ongoing debate about the US foreign policy accomplishments in Afghanistan.
Earlier this week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford defended further US military presence in the country.
Dunford stressed that such a deployment was necessary to avoid another possible “9/11”, underlining a continued and potentially dangerous “enemy” presence in the country.
The Pakistani prime minister has asserted his long-time opposition to the militarized and heavy-handed American approach towards Afghanistan.
“I talked for years about how there was no military solution in Afghanistan,…now I’m happy that everyone realizes there is only a political solution.”
The newly-elected premier has stressed the need to change Pakistan’s one-dimensional relations with the US, explaining that relations with other countries like China stand as a good example of bilateral trade relationships.
Khan was elected by Pakistan’s National Assembly in mid-August after his Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won general elections against the Pakistan Muslim League party lead by Shahbaz Sharif, brother of jailed ex-premier Nawaz Sharif.
The Pakistani premier has promoted his government on a platform of fighting corruption and tackling financial crisis.
Khan, nonetheless, faces a multitude of challenges, including economic crisis, extremism, water shortages and a booming population.