News - Afghanistan
Imran Khan, the high profile Pakistani cricketer-cum-political leader, has dismissed the existence of insurgent safe havens in Pakistan saying the "war on terror" was forced on his country and Washington had failed in Afghanistan.
Khan said at the sidelines of the World Economic Conference in India on Wednesday that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not in Pakistan while the war on terror has devastated his country.
"The reason why we are also stuck in this is because this war on terror was imposed on us," he said in Gurgaon. "We had nothing to do with 9/11, there is no Al Qaeda in Pakistan, there were no Taliban in Pakistan. We have got stuck into this war which has devastated us, over 40,000 people dead, everyday more people are dying, more extremism than before, more polarisation than ever."
Khan said the US war on terror had failed, and so his party will take a "completely different approach to this war on terror, completely disengaging from what is happening in Afghanistan and tackle it in our own way."
The leader of Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf comments came after the news of Barack Obama's re-election as US president broke. Khan took the opportunity to speak out against drones, which is one of his party platforms.
"Obama's last term was not very good for Pakistan. I am talking about Pakistan specifically. For us there was more violence, more drone attacks," he said.
"It caused so many problems to Pakistan. Obviously, this increase in drone attacks, which then led to more terrorist attacks on Pakistan's security forces. So, what we hope now is that Obama, in his second term will actually look for a genuine peace settlement and that is really what all of us want."
Khan said he also hoped for stronger ties with India, which would be a big step towards peace, and to resolve the tensions over Kashmir.
"I think, it is time for Pakistan-India also to have a different relationship and the time has come to get over the past and look to the future, which if we can get our relationship right, that is tremendous evidence of peace, so that is why I am really here, to interact," he said.
The presence of Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives as well as other insurgent groups in Pakistan is widely acknowledged by a number of Pakistani analysts and security officials.
Some commentators have argued that Khan makes such comments to shore up support for his party from the people in the tribal areas of Paksitan where the insurgents are said to be based.