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Khan: Afghanistan War can’t build peace

Written By: - Date published: 12:21 pm, September 26th, 2011 - 22 comments
Categories: afghanistan, colonialism - Tags:

Guyon Espiner interviewed Imran Khan, whose party is poised for victory in the Pakistani elections next year. He had stark words on how the Pakistani allegiance with the US during the war in Afghanistan has fueled radicalism and resistance. His message to New Zealand is: your soldiers are only making things worse. Will John Key listen?

GUYON OK, New Zealand has been, in its own small way, involved in this war in Afghanistan for a decade or so itself. When our prime minster talks about why New Zealand is there, John Key says that it’s to stop Afghanistan again being a home for terrorism. What do you say to New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, in response to that?

MR KHAN The New Zealand prime minister does not understand Afghanistan. If only he had read the history of Afghanistan, even the British – three wars in Afghanistan. The Russians killed a million Afghans – a million out of a population then of 15 million. A million died, and they were fighting more at the end than the beginning. Everyone was fighting. The women were fighting. They do not understand Afghanistan. This is a quagmire. From day one, I’ve opposed it, this insane war, and I can give you in writing that for another 10 years, there will be fighting there, and they will make no headway at all. In fact, they radicalise the people much more.

GUYON So your advice to New Zealand in terms of its involvement in Afghanistan?

MR KHAN That there is no military solution. There’s going to be a political solution. And the longer they keep killing people, and this military, these night raids – remember, most of the people being killed are innocent civilians. They are not fighting an army. They are fighting militants which are being supported by the population. That’s why they’re going to lose the war – because it’s not a question of Taliban; it’s a resistance movement now. And the history tells you, in Afghanistan, whenever an invader comes, they get together and they will resist. They have never accepted outsiders.


GUYON And you write about the new aspect of colonialism, which I guess you see as the United States, and the puppets, as you describe them, in Pakistan’s government, who, in exchange for money, allow their own people to be bombed by America’s drone aircraft. Is that how you see it?

MR KHAN Even worse, it’s probably the only instance in history where a country has bombed its own people by taking money from some other country. I don’t think there’s any precedence for this. So really the ruling elite has made our army a mercenary army to fight its own people, which is what’s basically happened – 140,000 Pakistani soldiers along tribal areas which border Afghanistan, and essentially fighting our own tribesmen. You might call them Taliban, but actually this was a reaction. The moment the Pakistan army went into the tribal areas, there was going to be an uprising. Because in 1948, our first only great leader – he pulled the army out of the tribal areas. We never had any trouble. Tribal areas are semi-autonomous. Only 40 laws of Pakistan apply there. They joined Pakistan through treaty. So Musharraf in 2004 sent the army in, and it took two years of collateral damage, because basically Pakistan army and the drones, they were bombing villages through artillery, the helicopter gunships, F16s – villages – caused massive collateral damage, and that collateral damage created the Pakistani Taliban. We did not have any militant Taliban until 2006.

GUYON When you say that that this is in exchange for money, I guess you’re talking about the billions of dollars, are you, in American aid, which flows into Pakistan and, I guess, supports its military?

MR KHAN Well, put it this way – every month, the Americans give the Pakistani army money, which is called something like imbursement or disimbursement for the action or activities that they’ve done in a month. So we get monthly payment from the Americans, and basically our army is fighting our own people in the tribal areas. And this insanity has caused radicalisation in our society. Every year, violence has grown in Pakistan. A country loses 35,000 people dead, $70 billion lost to the economy – total aid has only been $20 billion since 9/11 – 3.5 million people internally displaced, and then your ally tells you it doesn’t trust you, comes in, violates your sovereignty to take someone out, and then says you’re either complicit or you’re incompetent. I mean, if there was a self-respecting leadership in Pakistan, firstly, it would never had got in to this war. But if after giving these sacrifices… A war we had nothing to do with. No Pakistani was involved in 9/11, Al Qaeda was in Afghanistan, no militant Taliban in Pakistan, so how did we get in to this stage where we have 35,000 people dead?

22 comments on “Khan: Afghanistan War can’t build peace ”

  1. grumpy 1

    Seems Mr Khan my well be in a position to end the conflict – if he continues to give the sound bites for home consumption and the gullible like Espiner.


    • Galeandra 1.1

      ‘Support for the Afghan Taliban was “official ISI policy”, the London School of Economics (LSE) authors suggest.

      Pakistan’s military denied the claims.’

      From Grumpy’s BBC link.
      And who exactly is gullible?
      Back in the day, of course, the US supported the Taliban. Who’d a thunk.

  2. joe90 2

    I thought Pagani’s reaction to the interview was appalling.

    • AAMC 2.1


      There is no military solution. Khan didn’t endorse the Taliban, he suggested we stop creating them.

  3. Joe Bloggs 3

    Imran Khan should remind himself of the words of Mosharraf Zaidi, “It seems deeply improbable that [Osama] bin Laden could have been where he was killed without the knowledge of some parts of the Pakistani state.”

    Pakistan has played both sides in the war against terrorism for decades, publicly appearing to condemn terrorist actions, whilst privately funding them. The ISI’s been repeatedly linked to attacks on neighbouring India, linked to training and supplying Chechen rebels, and now to Afghan militants and extremists.

    So before the Taliban apologist starts in on lecturing John Key, how’s about he takes a good hard look in a mirror? Or perhaps that’s another of Khan’s problems – too much self-adulation…

    • freedom 3.1

      “Pakistan has played both sides in the war against terrorism for decades, publicly appearing to condemn terrorist actions, whilst privately funding them.”

      there is another country that does that too, what is it? oh yeah the United States of America

    • bbfloyd 3.2

      joe… you do realise that you are strengthening any condemnation of key by using the same methods as him don’t you?

    • AAMC 3.3

      I don’t for a moment support the ISI tactics any more than those of the US, who incidentally, being half a world away SHOULD have less stake in the region.. Cough, cough.

      But it’s naive to think the Paki’s aren’t gonna play it both ways. Once the US inevitably leaves, once again there will be a vacuum, and try don’t want India filling it.

      There are multiple wars or multiple layers within this war.

  4. ianmac 4

    I wondered about the genuineness of the above interview. Partly because the questions were so good that it caused me to hesitate. I looked for a satire tag. Sorry.
    The importance of this interview is that it really throws doubt (as if there wasn’t any already!) on our continued involvement in an un-winnable war.

  5. Keith Locke didnt listen and supported Russia, but then again he always supports anyone who has the same ideology than himself.

    • joe90 5.1

      Keith Locke didnt listen and supported Russia, but then again he always supports anyone who has the same ideology than himself.

      Anything to back up the allegation Brett or are you pulling lies out of your arse?.

      • Peter Rabbit 5.1.1

        It appears from the below quote that Brett is correct in regards to his accusations around Lockes support, however unlike the present ministers he at least eventually realised his initial position on the matter was wrong.

        From Wikipedia: “Similarly, while he opposed the 2001 war in Afghanistan to remove the Taliban, he wrote an article (in Socialist Action) entitled “Why workers should support Soviet action in Afghanistan” in 1980. This led to accusations of hypocrisy.[15] Locke explained that his previous support for the Soviet invasion was the position of the Socialist Action League, that he was wrong to have supported it, that he was incorrect in believing it would protect human rights in Afghanistan, and that he now believes it encouraged Islamic extremist groups.[16]”

      • Blue 5.1.2

        Keith Locke always struck me as the type of chap, when met by a situation that requires him to ‘man up’, he would be found cowering in a corner covering his ears screaming, “stop it, you’re damaging my self-esteem!”. They always end up alright, though. Others do their man-work for them, usually without thanks.

        • The Voice of Reason

          Boy, that comment says a lot about your insecurities, Blue. What is ‘man-work’? Do your knuckles need to drag on the ground to be able to do it? If so, do you want to borrow some elastoplasts?

          • Blue

            Man -work – protecting the safety, lives and freedoms of others without thought of thanks or reward. Man-work. The kind of things one has to do, when called upon by those unwilling to do it themselves, to do them. Knuckles are optional, but you do need to have the one thing you and Locke lack. Courage.

            • McFlock

              You obviously don’t include “thinking” in that task-list…

            • The Voice of Reason

              ” … protecting the safety, lives and freedoms of others without thought of thanks or reward.” “The kind of things one has to do, when called upon by those unwilling to do it themselves, to do them”
              Sounds like a definition of what most mums do every day, Blue. Sure you’re not just a misogynist Neanderthal?

        • insider

          It takes a lot of courage to publicly stand up for your convictions. And no matter how barmy his views, I don’t think you can challenge KL’s courage in that sense. I don’t think he is in politics for the sake of his ego unlike a large number of other politicians.

  6. alex 6

    Its a real shame that Imran Khan got into politics, I’d hate to see him get assassinated but thats really the only thing that will result after he so publicly criticised the USA in that region.

  7. Afewknowthetruth 7

    Modern wars are not fought to be won. They are opportunities for making money out of selling weapons, and opportunities for testing new weapons The game is to keep a war going for as long as possible.

    The war in Afghanistan is a successful war: after a decade of fighting there is no end in sight.

    However, the Korean conflict holds the modern record for armed conlfict: 60 years of ongoing hostility and no end in sight. The War on Drugs comes a close second … that’s been running since the 1960s, as has the War on Hunger.

    I nearly forgot the War on Nature, which has been spectacularly successful: around half the planet has been subdued, and the other half is in the process of falling to the weapon systems of mechanical beasts and chemicals.

    Thanks goodness Peak Oil is soon going to put a stop to most of it.

    “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

    Albert Einstein
    US (German-born) physicist (1879 – 1955)

    • grumpy 7.1

      Nice quote…….

    • AAMC 7.2

      I read not long ago about the million hamburger patties a month exported from the US to Afghanistan for the soldiers and other industries which surround the war effort. It’s so much more than just guns.

      I have a friend over there. I spoke to him when Osama was shot and Patraeus was moved to the CIA, and asked if he thought it meant a shift in narrative and a possible withdrawal. He said, no way, they’re going nowhere. There are too many people making too much money. And interestingly, the lads on the ground are saying, I hope there is no withdrawal, there are no jobs at home, we don’t know what we’ll do if we go home.

      And in the meantime, on average 12 veterans a day committing suicide.

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