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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday reacted to the proposed bill under discussion in the US Senate that seeks to impose sanctions on the Taliban, its supporters, as well as, to assess Pakistan’s alleged role behind the fall of Kabul and Panjshir, describing the move as completely unwarranted and inconsistent with the spirit of the two countries cooperation on Afghanistan since 2001.

In a statement, Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad stated: “We see that a debate is under way in Washington both in the media and on the Capitol Hill to reflect on and examine the circumstances leading to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

He said that the draft legislation introduced in the US Senate by a group of Senate Republicans seems to be a reaction to this debate.

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

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

He pointed out 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.

“Moreover, 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 spokesperson asserted.

The draft of the bill was introduced by a group of Republican senators led by Senator Jim Risch, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in the US Senate on Monday that requires the imposition of sanctions with respect to the Taliban and persons assisting the Taliban in Afghanistan, and for other purposes.

Mitt Romney, who previously ran against former president Barack Obama, is also among the 22 movers of the proposed legislation – Afghanistan Counterterro-rism, Oversight, and Accountability Bill 2021 – which calls for a comprehensive report on who supported the Taliban during the US 20 years in Afghanistan, helped the group in capturing Kabul in August 2021 and supported their offensive on Panjshir Valley.

The proposed legislation requires the secretary of state, in consultation with the secretary of defence and the director of national intelligence, to submit a report on entities providing support to the Taliban to the appropriate congressional committees.

Afghan failure: Mazari rebukes US for introducing bill targeting Pakistan

Various references have been given to Pakistan including in the Section 202, titled, “Report on entities providing support for the Taliban”, which stated: “The first report required by subsection (a) 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, including the provision of sanctuary space, financial support, intelligence support, logistics and medical support, training, equipping, and tactical, operational, or strategic direction;

(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; and (4) 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.”

In a tweet, Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari stated: “So again Pakistan 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 & Ashraf Ghani’s flight to UAE.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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