‘Unwarranted’ references to Pakistan in US Senate bill inconsistent with spirit of cooperation: FO


ISLAMABAD, SEPT 29: Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said on Wednesday that “unwarranted” references to Pakistan in a bill that was recently introduced in the United States Senate was “inconsistent” with the spirit of cooperation that had existed between the two countries on Afghanistan since 2001.

“We see that a debate is under way 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 in a statement.

However, the references to Pakistan in the bill were “completely unwarranted”, he said. Terming those references as “inconsistent in spirit” with Pak-US cooperation on Afghanistan since the American invasion in 2001, he recalled that Pakistan had facilitated the Afghan peace process and helped evacuate citizens of the US and other countries from Afghanistan in August.

Ahmad reiterated that Pakistan had always maintained that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan. It had also stressed that a coercive approach would not work and the only way to achieve sustainable peace in the war-torn country was through engagement and dialogue, he added.

He noted that sustained security cooperation between Pakistan and the US 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 said.

Assessment of Pakistan’s role

Twenty-two US senators moved a bill in the Senate on Monday that seeks to assess Pakistan’s alleged role in Afghanistan before and after the fall of Kabul and in the Taliban offensive in Panjshir Valley.

Senator Jim Risch, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and other Republicans introduced the Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act to address outstanding issues related to the Biden administration’s “rushed and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan”.

The proposed legislation calls for a comprehensive report on who supported the Taliban during America’s 20 years in Afghanistan, helped the group in capturing Kabul in mid-August and supported their offensive on Panjshir Valley.

The first report shall include “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, operation or strategic direction, according to the bill.

The legislation also requires “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”.

The proposed bill also seeks to impose sanctions on the Taliban and others in Afghanistan for terrorism, drug-trafficking, and human rights abuses, as well as on those providing support to the Taliban, including foreign governments.

It states that the US should not recognise any member of the Taliban as the ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States or as the ambassador of Afghanistan to the United Nations, and places restrictions on non-humanitarian foreign assistance to the war-torn country.

It also calls for a comprehensive review of foreign assistance to entities that support the Taliban.