US to assess ties with Pakistan over Afghanistan’s future: Blinken

The United States will be looking at its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks, US State Secretary Antony Blinken said, to formulate what role the US would want Islamabad to play in the future of Afghanistan

Sep 14, 2021
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US State Secretary Antony Blinken

The United States will be looking at its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks, US State Secretary Antony Blinken said, to formulate what role the US would want Islamabad to play in the future of Afghanistan.

The remark came on Monday when Blinken was testifying before Congress on the Taliban victory in Afghanistan after which lawmakers across the parties in the US were pushing for a tough line on Pakistan’s role.

Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests, [with] some that are in conflict with ours”, Blinken told the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, choosing his words carefully.  

“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 [of] cooperation with us on counterterrorism,” Blinken said.

When Blinken was asked if the US will reassess its ties with Pakistan, he responded, “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.”

“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,” he said during the testimony. 

So far, no country has recognized the Taliban government which seized power in Afghanistan on 15 August. However, regional countries like Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, China, and Russia have kept their embassies open in Kabul. 

During the testimony, he said the priorities were to ensure that 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 becomes “a haven for outward-directed terror”.

Blinken stressed that Pakistan needed to line up with “a broad majority of the international community in working toward those ends and in upholding those expectations,” Blinken said.

On the other hand, Pakistan has repeatedly pushing the world to engage with the Taliban, warning not to repeat the mistake of the past by abandoning the regime. 

Among the suggestions by US lawmakers included removing Pakistan’s status as a non-NATO major ally which has allowed the country to access US weapons. 

(SAM)