Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan said that the Americans were "clueless" about what was going on in Afghanistan, where they thought they had built a democratic government. He made these remarks in an October 2, 2021 interview with TRT TV (Turkey). Khan said the Americans were completely surprised by the Taliban takeover, and added that he feels sorry for President Biden, who is suffering backlash after the scenes at Kabul airport. He said that Pakistan had nothing to do with 9/11, so it should not have been involved in the war in Afghanistan. Khan further said that Pakistan became a scapegoat for U.S. actions in Afghanistan and that it suffered devastating losses, internal displacement, and economic collapse. He added that it is critical that the U.S. keep playing a part in Afghanistan to prevent future massacres like those following the Soviet pullout, and that it ensures terrorists don't have a safe haven in the country.
Imran Khan: "In 2008, I went to the U.S. I addressed the think-thanks, I met Joe Biden as a Senator, I met John Kerry as a Senator, and I explained to them, but then I realized that they were clueless. The American public had no idea what was going on in Afghanistan. They had been completely taken by surprise. They thought the democratic government, that they had liberated the women – you know, people in the U.S. thought like that. And they were so few American casualties, so Afghanistan was something which was not in their minds.
"So when it suddenly happened, they were all taken by surprise. And therefore, you see this in Senate, the sort of questions being asked, they had no idea this was happening. But believe me, in Pakistan, people who knew Afghanistan history... Army Chief in 2010, General Kayani went to meet President Obama. He explained to them that they were not able to find a solution, that the moment you leave, the Afghan army will collapse. He told them: 'Look, you will leave a mess there, and we will, we in Pakistan, will suffer the consequences.' But again, they had no idea."
Interviewer: "Some people say that this position of yours, now looking back in retrospect, is quite prescient. But they also accuse you because of the stand, of being called 'Taliban Khan.'"
Imran Khan: "You see, it was this awful, arrogant, imperialistic attitude of the Americans and of George Bush, when he said: 'Either you are with us or against us.' You know, after 9/11, this amazingly ridiculous statement. 'If you do not support our policies, you are against us.' So therefore, if I did not agree with this military solution in Afghanistan, then I was pro-Taliban. And that is why they were all in a state of shock."
Interviewer: "Are you pro-Taliban?"
Imran Khan: "I am anti-military solutions. I do not believe that the way to solve the world's problems is by using military means.
"I objected to Pakistan becoming involved in this war. We had nothing to do with 9/11, no Pakistani was involved. Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan, we had no military Taliban in Pakistan. So what had Pakistan to do with this war, where a country loses 80,000 people? Our whole tribal belt was devastated. 3.5 billion people were internally displaced. We were called the most dangerous place in the world. Our economy went down, $150 billion lost to the economy, our currency lost half its value in 2008. So, I mean, we paid a heavy price for this. But for what? And in the end, rather than being appreciated for making these sacrifices just because we became an ally of the U.S., to be scapegoated for this blunder in Afghanistan. I think that has been the most painful thing for us.
"Right now, President Biden is under a lot of pressure, because, you know..."
Interviewer: "He almost seems sympathetic"
Imran Khan: "Sympathetic, because he is being criticized for the awful airport scenes. But you know, my contention is, how could he predict that two weeks before the exit, the President would flee the country and the Afghan army would collapse? He couldn’t predict it. The Taliban couldn't predict it. So how could he predict it?
So therefore, he is... So those awful airport scenes, they have caused such an incredible reaction in the American public, and of course, the Taliban takeover. So therefore, he is in a severe criticism right now, which I have sympathy [for].
"I think in Afghanistan, it is critical that the U.S. don't play a part because you know, look...They were there for twenty years, and if there is a mess, they wash their hands of Afghanistan, it would become a repeat of 1979, when the Soviets left and the U.S. left. And look what happened to Afghanistan after that. The bloodshed, the bloodbath that took place. Over 200,000 Afghans died in that, and it was chaos in Afghanistan.
So, the last thing for anyone, most of all us – we neighbors will be affected, others around Afghanistan, all the other neighbors will also be affected. But then the U.S., what will it have to show in the end? After twenty years spending 2 trillion dollars, hundreds of thousands of Afghans died in this time. What will they have to show if there is chaos there again? And then in chaos, that is where the international terrorists find a safe haven."