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Pakistan

'Coercive approach will not work': Pakistan reacts to US Senate bill

  • Foreign Office says legislation includes references to Pakistan that are 'completely unwarranted, and inconsistent with the spirit of Pakistan-US cooperation on Afghanistan since 2001'
Published September 29, 2021

Reacting to reports related to the US Senators proposing a bill that seeks to impose sanctions on the Afghan Taliban and assess Pakistan's role in Afghanistan over the last two decades, Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) said on Wednesday that “a coercive approach will not work and the only way to achieve long-term sustainable peace in Afghanistan is through engagement and dialogue".

“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 U.S. Senate by a group of Senate Republicans seems to be a reaction to this debate,” the FO Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said in a statement.

The FO noted that the legislation includes references to Pakistan that are “completely unwarranted.”

“We find all such references inconsistent with the spirit of Pakistan-U.S. cooperation on Afghanistan since 2001, including facilitation of the Afghan peace process and during the recent evacuations of American and other nationals from Afghanistan.”

Afghan failure: Mazari rebukes US for introducing bill targeting Pakistan

The FO statement further noted 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,” it said.

The bill was sponsored by 22 US lawmakers, including Senator Mitt Romney, who ran against former President Barack Obama during his re-election bid.

The bill, titled ‘Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act,' requires the imposition of sanctions with respect to the Taliban and persons assisting the Taliban in Afghanistan, and for other purposes.

The proposed legislation aims to suspend financial assistance and potentially impose sanctions on any country that the US considers supportive of the Taliban. The legislation singles out Pakistan in the section that calls for a report on “entities providing support for the Taliban”.

Regarding foreign governments support and non-state groups, the bill itself states “the Secretary of State, in consultation with the appropriate congressional committees, shall conduct a comprehensive review of all forms of United States foreign assistance provided to or through the government of any country or any organization providing any form of material support to the Taliban.”

Outcome of Afghan war: Pakistan mustn't be blamed: PM

Addressing Pakistan’s role, the bill explains that “the first report… shall include – (1) an assessment of support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan, for the Taliban between 2001 and 2020, including the provision of sanctuary space, financial support, intelligence support, logistics, and medical support, training, equipping, and tactical, operational, or strategic direction; (2) an assessment of support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan, for the 2021 offensive of the Taliban that toppled the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan… (3) an assessment of support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan, for the September 2021 offensive of the Taliban against the Panjshir Valley and the Afghan resistance.”

On Tuesday, Chairman of the Joint Chief General Mark Milley told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he had warned President Joe Biden that a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan could increase risks to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

“We estimated an accelerated withdrawal would increase risks of regional instability, the security of Pakistan, and its nuclear arsenals,” he said.

“We need to fully examine the role of Pakistan sanctuary,” the general emphasized, adding that we need to review how the Taliban resisted US military pressure for 20 years.

“I believe Pakistan's relationship with the Taliban is going to become significantly more complicated as a result of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan,” General McKenzie, the leader of US Central Command told the lawmakers.

The Centcom chief also said that the US and Pakistan were engaged in negotiations regarding the use of a vital air corridor to access Afghanistan.

“Over the last 20 years we've been able to use what we call the air boulevard to go in over western Pakistan and that's become something that’s vital to us, as well as certain landlines of communication,” he said.

“And we'll be working with the Pakistanis in the days and weeks ahead to look at what that relationship is going to look like in the future.”

General Milley admitted that the Afghan war did not end the way the US wanted it to end. "It is clear — it is obvious — the war in Afghanistan did not end on the terms we wanted with the Taliban now in power in Kabul," he told the lawmakers.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari also warned that Pakistan will be made to “pay a heavy price” for being an ally of the United States in its ‘war on terror’ as a bill has been introduced in the US Senate seeking sanctions against the Taliban after chaotic Western forces withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.

“So again Pak will be made to pay heavy price for being an ally of US in its “War on Terror” as a Bill is introduced in US Senate in aftermath of the US’s chaotic Afghan withdrawal followed by collapse of ANA [Afghan National Army] & Ashraf Ghani’s flight to UAE,” she said in a series of tweets on her official handle on Tuesday.

Mazari said that Pakistan is being scapegoated for the US and its allies’ failures in Afghanistan who she said during 20 years of presence failed to establish any stable governance structure.

“This was never our war; we suffered 80,000 casualties, a decimated economy, over 450 drone attacks by our US ally.”

The minister went on to say that it is time for those powers who were present in Afghanistan to look to their own failures instead of targeting Pakistan which has already paid a heavy price for supporting the US-led forces war in Afghanistan.

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