- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says every country, including Pakistan, needs to make good on the expectations the international community has of what is required of a Taliban-led government if it's to receive any legitimacy of any kind or any support
WASHINGTON: The United States will be looking at its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, to formulate what role Washington would want it play in the future of Afghanistan.
In the first public hearing in Congress about Afghanistan since last month's collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan government, Blinken told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee that Pakistan has a "multiplicity of interests some that are in conflict with ours."
"It is one that is involved hedging its bets constantly about the future of Afghanistan, it's one that's involved harboring members of the Taliban ... It is one that's also involved in different points cooperation with us on counterterrorism," Blinken said.
Asked by lawmakers if it is time for Washington to reassess its relationship with Pakistan, Blinken said the administration would soon be doing that.
"This is one of the things we're going to be looking at in the days, and weeks ahead - the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years but also the role we would want to see it play in the coming years and what it will take for it to do that," he said.
The United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan culminated with a hastily-organised airlift that left thousands of U.S.-allied Afghans behind and was punctuated by a suicide bombing outside Kabul's airport that killed 13 US troops and scores of Afghans.
The United States and Western countries are in a difficult balancing act in the aftermath of the Taliban's victory - reluctant to recognise the group while accepting the reality that they will have to engage with them to prevent a looming humanitarian crisis.
Pakistan is considered as one of the two countries, along with Qatar, with the most influence over the Taliban, and a place where many senior Taliban leaders were thought to have escaped to after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
What we have to look at is an insistence that every country, to include Pakistan, make good on the expectations that the international community has of what is required of a Taliban-led government if it's to receive any legitimacy of any kind or any support: Blinken
Blinken also heard from lawmakers across party lines who pushed for a harder line on Pakistan.
"What we have to look at is an insistence that every country, to include Pakistan, make good on the expectations that the international community has of what is required of a Taliban-led government if it's to receive any legitimacy of any kind or any support," Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
He said the priorities included ensuring the Taliban let out people who want to leave Afghanistan and respect the rights of women, girls and minorities, as well as adhere to promises that the country not again become "a haven for outward-directed terror."
"So Pakistan needs to line up with a broad majority of the international community in working toward those ends and in upholding those expectations," Blinken said.
Blinken said Pakistan's policies have been "on many occasions detrimental to our interests, on other occasions in support of those interests."
Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro, one of several lawmakers to criticise Pakistan, called on the United States to consider removing its status as a major non-NATO ally, which gives Islamabad privileged access to US weaponry.