Engage the Taliban, says Pakistan's envoy to Canada, while denying role in Afghanistan's fall
The Taliban are being advised by Pakistani military and intelligence, says Canadian analyst
Pakistan's incoming envoy to Canada is urging the Canadian government and the international community to engage the Taliban while also dismissing allegations that his country played a role in the militant group's takeover of Afghanistan.
"I think that is a lot of misinformation and a narrative which has been built up to corner Pakistan," Ameer Khurram Rathore, Pakistan's High Commissioner-designate to Canada, told CBC News Network's Power & Politics Wednesday.
Afghanistan's ousted president and vice president, along with others, have said the Taliban could not have achieved its rapid military victory in Afghanistan without support from Pakistan's military intelligence agency, arguing Pakistan has long provided sanctuary and support to the designated terrorist group.
Rathore said Pakistan erected a fence and established checkpoints along its border with Afghanistan to counter the "propaganda" that designated terrorists groups enjoy sanctuary in Pakistan and free movement between the two countries.
The incoming diplomat to Canada also claimed the Taliban that just swept to victory in Afghanistan is different from previous iterations of the militant group.
Watch: Allegation that Pakistan backed Taliban takeover in Afghanistan is 'misinformation': Diplomat:
"There has been a generational shift. The original Taliban of which we talk a lot were the people that were raised in the refugee camps in Pakistan. But these Taliban, they are homegrown. They have been living in Afghanistan," said Rathore.
"We have a substantial number of Pashtun population in Pakistan and [the] Taliban are primarily Pashtun, so there are lots of linkages between this ethnic group, but blaming the government of Pakistan for the failure of the international coalition in Afghanistan — I think it is carrying it a bit too far," he said.
Pakistan has repeatedly denied that it sponsored or has ever given safe haven to the Taliban or al-Qaeda, despite the U.S. discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden a decade ago in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Rathore said the only way for Canada and the international community to preserve its investment in the future of Afghanistan is to engage with the Taliban.
Shuvaloy Majumdar, who served as director of policy to successive Conservative ministers of foreign affairs, told Power & Politics Pakistan has been a material backer of the Taliban for 20 years because the country's intelligence apparatus aims to create instability in the region.
"The Taliban are being advised by Pakistani military and intelligence on the ground today in Afghanistan. We know that the wounded Taliban are being treated inside Pakistan. We know that the Taliban were created by Pakistan's ISI," said Majumdar Wendesday.
"And we know that Imran Khan, the prime minister of Pakistan, has been celebrating the Taliban victory as having represented casting off the shackles of Western occupation inside Afghanistan," said Majumdar, referencing remarks made by Khan shortly after Kabul fell to the Taliban.
Watch: Canada should engage anti-Taliban resistance in Afghanistan: Majumdar:
Majumdar, who is now foreign policy director at the Ottawa-based Macdonald-Laurier Institute, said he thinks Pakistan's military must be "induced" to end its "forever war inside Afghanistan."
Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who has fled Afghanistan, and former Afghan Vice-President Amrullah Saleh have both decried Pakistan's alleged backing of the Taliban.
The "Taliban were not, and are not, alone in doing this to the Afghan people," Saleh said in a recorded speech last week to the Macdonald-Laurier Institute. "They are being assisted by the Pakistan Army, by the Pakistani intelligence establishment."
Saleh, who is now one of two men leading the anti-Taliban resistance inside Afghanistan, urged western governments to publicly acknowledge "this harsh and brutal fact" and to pressure Pakistan at the United Nations.
Majumdar said he thinks Canada should engage Saleh's resistance effort in Afghanistan.
"I think we should be examining the full range of support, whether it's humanitarian or material, and we should do so in concert with our friends and our allies in defence of the Afghan people," said Majumdar.
With files from Murray Brewster