Strike deal with Taliban on Swat pattern: Imran to US

Pak cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan has counselled US to strike a deal with Taliban in Afghanistan on the pattern of Swat pact.

Written by Agencies | New York | Published: February 23, 2009 2:39:30 pm

A prominent Pakistani cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan has counselled US to strike a deal with Taliban in Afghanistan on the pattern of Swat pact,saying that the real threat was from al-Qaeda.

“The only way forward is dialogue,which is what (Afghan President) Hamid Karzai is finally saying. You have to start talking to the Taliban,” Khan said.

He warned that US President Barack Obama’s Afghan policy is “exactly the same way as the mess” made by the previous Bush administration. Pakistan had “absolutely no choice” other than to strike a deal with Taliban in Swat.

“My biggest worry is that the Obama administration is going exactly the same way as the mess made by the Bush administration. Its like the line from Alice in Wonderland. When you dot know where you’re,every road takes you there,” Khan was quoted as saying by CNN in an interview.

Khan termed the peace deal with Taliban as “fairly moderate”. He also asked Obama to stop the drone attacks inside Pakistani tribal areas,saying there can be no military solution to insurgency.

“The Americans should have isolated al Qaeda from the Taliban. The Taliban had nothing to do with terrorism. Yes,they were fundamentalists. But they were not terrorists.”

“The US attacks against the Taliban and then not being able to deliver on the promises of good governance system,brought things to the current mess in Afghanistan,” he added. Khan called for political dialogue with the militants,and asked Obama administration to realise that winning over the Pushtun population is essential.

The Obama Administration,Khan said,should not rely heavily on the use of military force because that would be a repetition of the former Bush administration’s flawed and direction-less Afghan policy.

“What I am hoping from Obama is that he will,somewhere along the line,realise,as the British have,that this war is not an option in Afghanistan. They have to understand the psyche of the people,their history,” he said on CNN.

Khan strongly opposed the drone attacks on Pakistani territory,terming them extremely counterproductive for the toll they take on innocent civilians.

uch measures,he said,radicalise the people and shrink the space for moderates. “There has to be a change of strategy,there is no military solution to this,” he said,citing the Soviet Union’s defeat in Afghanistan despite the fact that they killed a million people in that country.

The Tehreek chief said if the war goes in Afghanistan,Pakistan will continue to suffer from its blowback effect.

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