Pakistan calls US Senate bill “unwarranted and counterproductive”

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ISLAMABAD:

Islamabad reacted to a bill presented to the US Senate calling for sanctions against Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban on Wednesday, calling references to the country, which has remained the frontline state in the US-led campaign, unjustified. in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed rejected allegations that Pakistan provided military support to the Afghan Taliban.

The reaction of the Foreign Office as well as the Home Secretary came a day after 22 U.S. Senators from the Republican Party introduced a bill that called for sanctions against the Taliban but also called for an assessment of the alleged role played by Pakistan since 2001 in supporting the insurgents. group.

The 57-page bill entitled “Counterterrorism, Surveillance and Accountability Act 2021 in Afghanistan” made several references to Pakistan.

“An assessment of the support provided by state and non-state actors, including the government of Pakistan to the Taliban between 2001 and 2020, including the provision of sanctuary space, financial support, intelligence support, support logistics and medical, training, equipment and tactical support. , operational or strategic ”, we read in the bill.

It also calls for an assessment of the alleged role of the state, non-state actors as well as the government of Pakistan in supporting the Taliban offensive that led to the fall of Kabul.

Republican senators are further asking the Biden administration to assess Pakistan’s role in supporting the Taliban offensive against the Panjshir Valley.

Read also: Bill was introduced in the US Senate to sanction the Taliban and their supporters

“We see that a debate is underway in Washington both in the media and on Capitol Hill to reflect and examine the circumstances that led to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. The bill presented to the US Senate by a group of Senate Republicans appears to be a reaction to this debate, ”Foreign Department spokesman Asim Iftikhar said in a statement.

“The legislation includes references to Pakistan which are totally unwarranted,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The statement called all of these references inconsistent with the spirit of Pakistan-American cooperation on Afghanistan since 2001, including the facilitation of the Afghan peace process and the recent evacuations of US nationals and others from Afghanistan.

He noted that Pakistan has always maintained that there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. Likewise, a coercive approach will not work and the only way to achieve long-term lasting peace in Afghanistan was engagement and dialogue.

“In addition, sustained security cooperation between Pakistan and the United States would remain essential to address any future terrorist threat in the region. Such proposed legislative measures are therefore unjustified and counterproductive, ”the statement added.

Earlier, Sheikh Rashid, reacting to the developments, said the country had not provided any military support to the Taliban.

Also Read: Mazari Blames US For Introducing Bill Targeting Pakistan For Afghan Failure

“The United States accuses us of facilitating the Taliban, but we only facilitated them to bring them to the table at the request of the United States,” he said at a ceremony in Islamabad.

The statement came a day after a bill was tabled in the US Senate to impose sanctions against the Afghan Taliban that could also spread to Pakistan. The bill sparked a rebuke from Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari.

Rashid, in today’s statement, said Pakistan wants the world to engage with the Taliban so that peace can prevail in the neighboring country. “We are with the world and we want the world to be with Afghanistan in this difficult situation.”

Although Pakistan has expressed concerns over the bill, observers believe it is premature to say whether it will become law. The Democratic Party and ruling Republicans currently have 50 senators each in the 100-member upper house of the US Congress. This means that the two parties do not have a majority to pass legislation. In this case, the vote of US Vice President Kamala Harris becomes the deciding factor.

While there has been no reaction from the Biden administration to the bill, US Secretary of State Blinken said during his testimony to Congress that Washington would assess Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan during the 20 years war.

The bill reignites the debate in Pakistan as to whether the United States is a trustworthy partner. Pakistan had suffered US sanctions after the withdrawal of former Soviet Union forces from Afghanistan in 1989. Two years later, US President Bush Sr. invoked the “Pressler Amendment” to suspend all kinds of civilian assistance and military in Pakistan for the pursuit of its nuclear program.

Pakistani policymakers have long feared that the United States would be tough on Islamabad after its withdrawal from Afghanistan.


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