Wednesday Sep 29 2021
Web Desk

US bill to probe Pakistan's alleged support for Taliban 'uncalled for', 'counterproductive': FO

Web Desk
Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar addressing a weekly press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, on September 16, 2021. — Facebook
Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar addressing a weekly press briefing at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad, on September 16, 2021. — Facebook  

The Foreign Office on Wednesday responded to a draft bill tabled by US senators regarding a probe of the country’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and Pakistan's alleged support for the Taliban offensive, saying that the proposed legislation is “uncalled for and counterproductive”.

The FO spokesperson, Iftikhar Ahmad, issued a statement in response to media queries regarding Pakistan’s stance on the matter.

“We see that a debate is underway in Washington both in the media and on Capitol Hill to reflect on and examine the circumstances leading to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The draft legislation introduced in the US Senate by a group of Senate Republicans seems to be a reaction to this debate,” he said.

The spokesperson said that the legislation “includes references to Pakistan that are completely unwarranted”.

He said that Pakistan finds all such references “inconsistent with the spirit of Pakistan-US cooperation on Afghanistan since 2001, including facilitation of the Afghan peace process and during the recent evacuations of American and other nationals from Afghanistan”.

Ahmed stated for the record that Pakistan has consistently maintained that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan.

“Similarly, a coercive approach will not work and the only way to achieve long term sustainable peace in Afghanistan is through engagement and dialogue,” he added.

The spokesperson said that sustained security cooperation between Pakistan and the United States would “remain critical in dealing with any future terrorist threat in the region”.

“Such proposed legislative measures are, therefore, uncalled for and counterproductive.”

The proposed bill

American senators have tabled a bill in the US Senate, demanding a deeper investigation into the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan and sanctions on the group as well as those who assisted them in driving out the Ashraf Ghani-led regime.

The 'Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act' seeks to establish a task force that will focus on continued evacuation of American citizens, legal permanent residents and Special Immigrant Visa holders from Afghanistan.

Introduced by 22 American Republican senators, the bill seeks to tackle issues related to the Afghan withdrawal, such as counterterrorism strategies and sanctioning the Taliban for alleged human rights abuses in the country.

"Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and not less frequently than annually thereafter, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on entities providing support to the Taliban," the bill read.

Non-state actors and Pakistan

It added that further assessment of "support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan, for the Taliban between 2001 and 2020, provision of sanctuary space, financial support, intelligence support, logistics and medical support, training, equipping, and tactical, operational, or strategic direction" should be held.

The bill seeks a probe into the "support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan" for the 2021 Taliban offensive that helped topple the Afghan government led by Ashraf Ghani, adding that the areas to be probed are provision of sanctuary of space, intelligence support, financial support, logistics, training and medical support for the group.

The bill further seeks a probe into support for the Taliban allegedly by non-state actors and the government of Pakistan into the Panjshir Valley operation by the group and against their military offensives targeting the Afghan resistance.

"A detailed description of United States diplomatic and military activities undertaken to curtail support for the 2021 offensive of the Taliban that toppled the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan," it added.

'This was never our war, Pakistan being scapegoated'

Earlier in the day, Pakistan's Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari lashed out at the American legislators for tabling the bill, saying that once again, Islamabad was being punished for being America's ally in the War on Terror.

She said despite being in Afghanistan for 20 years, the US government has left behind "no stable governance structures".

"Pakistan now being scapegoated for this failure.This was never our war; we suffered 80,000 casualties, a dessimated economy, over 450 drone attacks by our US "ally"," she tweeted.

She asked the US to introspect, wondering whether the massive $2 trillion invested by the US had been spent.

"US Senate should do serious introspection: Where did $2 trillion disappear? Why did the heavily-invested-in ANA simply dissolve? Who asked Pakistan to free TTA (Tehreek-e-Taliban Afghanistan) leadership? Who signed Doha agreement with TTA and hosted them in (Washington) DC?"

She then urged Western countries to look to their own failures rather than blame Pakistan for them.

"Enough is enough. It is time for those powers who were present in Afghanistan to look to their own failures instead of targeting Pakistan which paid a heavy price in lives lost, social & economic costs, refugees — all for being an ally and suffering constant abuse, in a war that wasn't ours," she said.