Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has called Taliban “normal civilians”, not military outfits, and asked how the country is supposed to hunt them down when it has three million Afghan refugees at the border.
In an interview with PBS NewsHour aired Tuesday night, Khan stressed that Pakistan hosts three million Aghan refugees of which the majority are Pashtuns, the same ethnic group as the Taliban fighters.
“Now, there are camps of 500,000 people; there are camps of 100,000 people. And Taliban are not some military outfits, they are normal civilians. And if there are some civilians in these camps, how is Pakistan supposed to hunt these people down? How can you call them sanctuaries?” he argued.
When asked about alleged Taliban safe havens in Pakistan, the Prime Minister responded: “Where are these safe-havens? There are three million refugees in Pakistan who are the same ethnic group as the Taliban…”
Pakistan has been long accused of helping the Taliban militarily, financially and with intelligence inputs in their fight against the Afghanistan government, but Imran Khan dismissed these accusations as “extremely unfair”.
Islamabad has issued “official warning” to Kabul that any “move to dislodge Taliban” from its borders will be “faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force”, claimed Afghanistan’s Vice President Amrullah Saleh, accusing the neighbours of providing “close air support” to the Islamic fundamentalist outfit.
“Pakistan air force has issued official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force. Pak air force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas,” Saleh tweeted.
He further said that if anyone doubts his claim, he is ready to share evidence. “If anyone doubts my tweet on Pak Air Force & Pak Army warning to d Afg side not to retake Spin Boldak I am ready to share evidence through DM. Afghan aircrafts as far as 10 kilometers frm Spin Boldak R warned 2 back off or face air to air missiles. Afg is too big to be swallowed (sic),” the country’s vice president wrote.