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Engage with Taliban, Pakistan PM Imran Khan's advice to nations

"The Taliban have promised to give rights to their women," Khan said

imran-khan-pakistan-ap File photo of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan | AP

In an interview to CNN, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan urged global nations to engage with the Taliban administration in Afghanistan. "The Taliban have said that they want an inclusive government and promised to give rights to their women and also announced amnesty as part of efforts to gain international acceptability," he said, adding that Afghanistan was on a monumental crossroad in history.  "Either it would gain lasting peace after 40 years of war through an inclusive government, or end up in chaos. We can hope and pray that there is peace after 40 years," Khan said.

"But if it goes wrong [in Afghanistan], and which is what we are really worried about, it could go to chaos, the biggest humanitarian crisis, a huge refugee problem, unstable Afghanistan and the possibility of again terrorism from Afghanistan's soil, he said.

Pakistan is fighting a major domestic insurgency in the form of local Taliban offshoot the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or the TTP, as well as al-Qaeda and the ISIS. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had said the Pakistan government would be "open to giving" a pardon to members of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) if they promise not to indulge in terrorist activities and submit to the country's Constitution.

Qureshi termed as "positive" the Afghan Taliban administration's announcement that they would not allow any terrorist groups to use their soil against any country, including Pakistan. He said Pakistan had been "continuously" pointing out TTP sanctuaries to the previous Ashraf Ghani-led government, "but they wouldn't move". It remains to be seen whether the Afghan Taliban act on their assurances, Qureshi added.

For years, the TTP unleashed deadly attacks on urban centres across Pakistan from their bases along the Afghan border, where they provided shelter to an array of global jihadist groups including Al Qaeda. But a massive military offensive launched in 2014 largely destroyed the group's command and control structure, dramatically reducing insurgent violence throughout Pakistan. Sporadic attacks targeting security forces, however, continue. Earlier this month, the TTP claimed responsibility for a suicide attack near a Frontier Corps (FC) check post in Quetta in which four paramilitary personnel were killed and 21 others injured.

-Inputs from agencies

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