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09 March 2009

Afghanistan - Words of Wisdom from Imram Khan

The following is part of the transcript from the interview between Andrew Marr of the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning 8th March and Imran Khan (famous cricketer and Chairman of the Pakistan PTO Party). To my mind he speaks a lot of sense regarding the way we are handling Afghanistan and the Pakistan border areas:

IMRAN KHAN:

I do not think Pakistan will become a failed state because it's a very resilient state. You know the people are very strong. They're used to crises. All it needs is a bit of stability for the country to start bubbling again. The problem we face right now is, in a way what he said is right - that the responsibility in a parliamentary democracy, which is based on the Westminster model, lies with the Prime Minister. But here the authority lies with the President, so he has usurped all the powers of Musharraf, who was a dictator, army chief. So he's got all the powers of Musharraf, but the responsibility is with the Prime Minister. No system can work where you divide authority and responsibility, so no wonder the government is paralysed.

ANDREW MARR:

And in the meantime dozens of people continue to die all the time. There was a report this week - another group of police killed by a car bomb up in the North West provinces. At least the impression of complete lawlessness up there, isn't there?

IMRAN KHAN:

Well you know we entered into a war which was not Pakistan's war, and we were taken in by a military dictator. Then we started doing exactly what the Americans were doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, using aerial bombardment to fight the war, killing lots of civilians, and slowly but surely the whole area rose up against us. So now where there were no Taleban before, the entire area has a new phenomena which is called Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan.

ANDREW MARR:

So what would be your message, for instance, to President Obama who clearly intends to pursue the war in Afghanistan and the border area even more vigorously?

IMRAN KHAN:

My message to President Obama is do not follow the tried and failed policies of George Bush. Learn something what happened to the Russians in Afghanistan. They killed 1.5 million Afghans. Still lost the war! This way of fighting a war by aerial bombardment, the whole area is getting radicalised. This country, this is going to go down the drain if this war continues. Forget about everything else, we can cope, but this war is draining this country. We should tell Obama save yourself, start negotiation, talk to the Taleban. Taleban were never your enemy; Taleban don't have the capacity to hit any Western targets. And help us get out of this mess, which was not of our making. We got stuck in someone else's war.

ANDREW MARR:

So are you saying that it would be better for Pakistan, for the British and the Americans in Afghanistan simply to leave and go home?

IMRAN KHAN:

You know what surprises me is the British have an understanding of Afghanistan. They've got a history. They know what Afghanistan is all about. They have an eighty year history of the tribal area. What surprises me is that why are they not advising the Americans that this is a disaster for all of us? I mean particularly this country, but also for the Americans, because this is just going to drain them. This war will go on and on and on. No-one can tell me right now what will happen for them to win the war. What are the objectives of this war? What are they trying to bring to Afghanistan? If it was Al-Qaeda then surely the sensible thing is isolate Al-Qaeda, not push all the people towards Al-Qaeda.

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