Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in an interview at the Council on Foreign Relations In New York on Monday admitted that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) trained al-Qaida and other terrorist groups to fight in Afghanistan.
Although it is common knowledge that the Pakistani military, with the support of the United States, trained the so-called mujahedeen who fought Soviet troops in Afghanistan, it is the first time that any Pakistani leader has directly confirmed publicly that Al-Qaida was among those groups.
“The Pakistani Army, ISI, trained Al-Qaida and all these groups to fight in Afghanistan. There were always links--there had to be links, because they trained them,” said the prime minister in a candid conversation in which he offered a historical context for the regional culture, and conflict.
“The resistance was organized by Pakistani ISI training these militants, who were invited from all over the Muslim world to do jihad against the Soviet Union. And so we created these militant groups to fight the Soviets,” Khan said, continuing: “They were indoctrinated that fighting foreign occupation is jihad. But now, when the US arrived in Afghanistan, it was supposed to be terrorism. So Pakistan took a real battering in this.”
Khan offered to get involved with the political solution for peace in Afghanistan after the US-Taliban talks broke down in early September.
“There’s not going to be a military solution. For nineteen years if you have not been able to succeed, you’re not going to be able to succeed in another nineteen years.” Khan said, adding: “there needs to be some sort of a peace deal. There has to be a political settlement.”
Khan said that for the nearly 13 months that he has been prime minister, he has sought peace with Afghanistan.
On US and Taliban peace talks, Khan lamented the last-minute scuttling of the deal by US President Donald Trump, and wished Pakistan had been consulted; however, the Trump Administration has been responsive to Khan’s recent overtures. The US’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, met with Khan Sunday to brief him on the details of the nine rounds of US-Taliban peace talks in Doha, and the US White House reported that President Donald Trump also had a meeting with Khan on Monday to discuss Afghanistan.