US aid very costly for Pakistan, says Imran Khan

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PTI Chairman Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: The PTI chief Imran Khan has said the United States uses Pakistan “like a tissue paper”, adding that the American aid is very costly for Pakistan.
“For Pakistan, unfortunately, the economic situation is not that strong right now. The country is actually going through an economic crisis. So American sanctions would be damaging. But I mean, is this justice? Is it fair? Is this how the US would use a country like a tissue paper and when it thinks it doesn’t need it anymore it just casts it away? I think it’s very immoral,” Imran said during an interview with RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman’s statement came in response to a question regarding how damaging and dangerous it would be for Pakistan to be placed on the grey-list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Speaking about the US accusing Islamabad of supporting terrorism, Imran said, “I think, it’s very unfair to Pakistan, you know, a country that participated in the US war, and I repeat, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, and a country that lost more people than any other country.”
“I mean, Pakistan lost more human beings, almost 70,000 dead, vast number of them were handicapped because of bomb blasts, for helping the Americans, for joining the American war and it brought the heaviest cost. And at the end the Americans today blame Pakistan and put sanctions against it, I think, this is the greatest travesty of justice. I think, you know, it is something which is inconceivable that the US would blame Pakistan for its failure in Afghanistan,” he added.
When asked why the Pakistani defence minister is asking the US to reconsider a cut of billions of dollars in security aid as ordered by President Donald Trump in January, Imran said. “My point of view is that this American aid has been very costly for Pakistan.”
“For getting whatever aid we did get in these 15 years, the damage done to Pakistan and participating the US war on terror has led to almost 70,000 people dead. It has devastated our tribal areas, the border areas, we have half of the population – we are talking about 3 to 4 million people – who were internally displaced. And the loss of the economy is about 100 billion dollars. So this small aid has been very costly. And the lesson learned, from Pakistan’s point of view, is to never fight someone else’s war. And people like us have always opposed it.”
Posed with the question if Pakistan should show actual accounting or if US should put forth proof of its statement that anywhere from 50% to 70% of the aid sent to Pakistan was misspent, wasted on kickbacks, bribes or even stolen, Imran said, “The aid given in proportion to the damage done in Pakistan by participating in the US war – there is no comparison.”
“The aid was what? They say, about 20 billion dollars, maybe 25 billion dollars. Pakistan has lost over a hundred billion dollars. Economy suffered. Investment suffered. The damage done through terrorism meant that foreign investors won’t come into Pakistan. Tourism collapsed in this country. Even today foreign cricket teams don’t come to play in Pakistan. So this country took a heavy punishment by participating in that war. And as I said, the money coming from that aid is a small pittance compared to what it cost to people of Pakistan,” he maintained.
“Firstly, what would the US do to be on a collision course with Pakistan? The maximum leverage that the US has is to stop the aid. And, you know, Pakistan should try everything to keep the US happy,” he said when asked if the drop in American aid be countered by deals of Pakistan’s newest friends, like China or Saudi Arabia.
“But the problem is that the US expects Pakistan – the message it has made in Afghanistan – to somehow win the war which they’ve badly lost in Afghanistan. And when I say ‘lost’ I mean they haven’t won.”
“All the Taliban have to do to win the war is not to lose. So what the US expects Pakistan to do is what it has not been able to do to succeed in Afghanistan. And clearly Pakistan has limitations. And if Pakistan now… What they want to do is to take actions against these Taliban groups supposedly operating from Pakistan. Well, then they should tell us where these groups are. They are talking about the Haqqani network. At its peak the Haqqani network would have maximum 2,000 to 2,500 men in Pakistan. That surely cannot be the reason why they’ve lost and have not been able to win for 16 years,” he said.
Suggesting that the US will have to change its strategy in Afghanistan, Imran said, “What I feel is that the American policy of military actions, collateral damage… I don’t know whether you have seen, in Kunduz the bomb in madrasa killed a hundred children. Now that hundred children killed by the American bomb means that this will raise hatred in Afghanistan, and hatred means more recruits, and so it’s an ongoing circle: collateral damage, hatred, more recruits and an ongoing war. So the answer is that the US has to change its strategy. And that’s going towards dialogue and political solution.”
The PTI chief reiterated that Pakistan started off fighting the US war.
“I mean, there was no Al-Qaeda in Pakistan, there were no militant Taliban in Pakistan, and we didn’t have the terrorism. We had sectarian terrorism, but that was just nothing compared to what happened once we joined the US war on terror after 9/11. And then we had a spate of suicide bombings which was bigger than in any other country.”
“I mean, Pakistan suffered the sort of terrorism which no other country suffered. And there was a point in 2010-2011 when people were worried about the future of the country, we were falling apart. So it was thanks to the security forces that they eventually took this terrorism under control, which was because we were considered collaborators with the Americans. So all the anti-Americanism turned against Pakistan. People were attacking Pakistani security forces because they thought we were collaborating with the US. So the brunt of the anger against the US was borne by Pakistan,” he added,
Slamming the US president for applauding India’s role in the war on terror, while blaming Pakistan for the US not winning in Afghanistan and supporting terrorism, the PTI chief said, “Now this is exactly what India says about Pakistan.”
“And so therefore it was extremely hurtful for people of this country. They participated in the war that was not Pakistan’s war. There were no Pakistanis involved in 9/11. Al-Qaeda was in Afghanistan. There were no militant Taliban in Pakistan.”
When asked if he is saying that India is duping the US president into making decisions, Imran said, I don’t know what he has come up with, but it’s quite clear that the things he is saying is praising India whereas India didn’t make any sacrifices in this war on terror. What role did India play in this whole war? It’s Pakistan that took the burden, the suffering. And so to praise India is shocking for all of us. What has India contributed to this war on terror? And to give India a role in Afghanistan… India doesn’t have a border with Afghanistan.”
Stating that there is no solution to bringing peace in Afghanistan other than all neighbors sitting together for a political situation, the PTI chief said, “Donald Trump doesn’t understand the history of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has a history, where they do not accept foreigners. They have always resisted foreign invasions.”
“And if he had even drawn any lessons from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, before that the British in the 19th century invasion of Afghanistan, he would know that this military solution which Donald Trump also has tried, is going to fail. The only solution, the only way to bring peace in Afghanistan is all the neighbours sit together and then come up with a political solution. There is no other solution apart from that,” he upheld.

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