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Pakistan should have remained neutral after 9/11, committed blunder going after terror groups: Imran Khan

Pakistan should have remained neutral after 9/11, committed blunder going after terror groups: Imran Khan

New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan said his country committed "one of the biggest blunders" by siding with the US after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, saying the previous governments "should not have pledged what they could not deliver".

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on Monday in New York, Khan said Pakistan should have remained neutral as the country's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had previously trained "militant groups" to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

"In the 1980s, when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, Pakistan, helped by the US, organised the resistance to the Soviets. The ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) trained militants who were invited from all over the Muslim world to do jihad against the Soviets," Khan said in response to a question.

"And so we created these militant groups to fight the Soviets…Jihadis were heroes then. Come 1989, Soviets leave Afghanistan, the US packs up and leaves Afghanistan…and we were left with these groups," he added.

"Then comes 9/11, and Pakistan again joins the US in the war on terror and now we are required to go after these groups as terrorists. They were indoctrinated that fighting foreign occupation is jihad but now when the US arrived in Afghanistan, it was supposed to be terrorism," Khan added.

"So Pakistan took a real battering in this," the Pakistan Prime Minister said.

Khan said Pakistan "committed one of the biggest blunders" when it joined the US war on terror after the 9/11 terror attacks by the al-Qaeda.

"I think the Pakistani government should not have pledged what they could not deliver," Khan said, referring to former Pakistan president General Pervez Musharraf's decision to side with the US.

Responding to a question on al-Qaeda terrorist Osama bin Laden, Khan said some people in the Pakistan Army didn't agree on going after terror groups in Afghanistan.

"After 9/11 when we did a 180 degree turn and went after those groups, not everybody agreed with us, within the army people didn't agree with us. So as I said, there were more insider attacks in Paksitan. There were two suicide attacks on General Musharraf, which were insider (attacks), from within the army," Khan said.

Pakistan was one of the three countries which recognised the Taliban government in Afghanistan before the US invasion in 2001 there. After the US invasion of Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan extended support to American forces against the Taliban.

Khan, who is in the US on a week-long visit, will be addressing the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, the same day as Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

(With inputs from Indian Express)

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