Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the US war against terrorism was "disastrous" for Pakistan as Washington used Islamabad like a "hired gun" during their 20-year presence in Afghanistan.
"We (Pakistan) were like a hired gun," Khan said in an interview with CNN. "We were supposed to make them (the US) win the war in Afghanistan, which we never could."
This comes two days after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday said the US would reassess its ties with Pakistan following the military drawdown from Afghanistan. Blinken told US Congress during a hearing that Pakistan has a "multiplicity of interests some that are in conflict with ours."
Pakistan has had deep ties with the Taliban and other outfits in the region. Moreover, the country has been accused of supporting the group during the US's war on terror.
Despite ample evidence presented by the international community, Imran Khan, in the CNN interview, denied charges that Pakistan harbours terrorists and has given them a safe haven.
"What are these safe havens?" Khan asked. "The area of Pakistan along the border of Afghanistan had the heaviest surveillance by the United States drones ... surely they would have known if there were any safe havens?"
Digressing from the question, the Pakistan PM said, "The question is, was Pakistan in a position to take military action against the Afghan Taliban when it was already being attacked from inside, from the Pakistani Taliban who were attacking the state of Pakistan?"
While staunchly defending the Taliban, the Pakistan Prime Minister asked the international community to develop a consensus that would lead to recognition of the new "caretaker government" of the "Islamic Emirate".
Speaking to CNN, Khan said that the best way forward for peace and stability in Afghanistan is to engage with the Taliban and "incentivize" them on issues such as women's rights and inclusive government.
"The Taliban hold all of Afghanistan and if they can sort of now work towards an inclusive government, get all the factions together, Afghanistan could have peace after 40 years. But if it goes wrong and which is what we are really worried about, it could go to chaos. The biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem," Khan said.
When asked about his position on women's rights in Afghanistan, Khan said, "It's a mistake to think that someone from outside will give Afghan women rights. Afghan women are strong. Give them time. They will get their rights."
"Women should have the ability in a society to fulfil their potential in life," said Khan.
Since assuming power, the Taliban has made several assurances on a slew of important issues including human rights and women's rights. However, reports coming from the country stand in contrast with the claims.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)