CIA director meets top officials in India, Pakistan over Afghan situation

In what is being perceived as intense efforts to prevent any security threat from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in the future, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief visited India and Pakistan and deliberated with key officials, days after the Taliban unveiled its interim government that included several persons, including acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, who figure on the UN Security Council's terrorism blacklist

Sep 09, 2021
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CIA Director William Burns

In what is being perceived as intense efforts to prevent any security threat from Taliban-ruled Afghanistan in the future, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief visited India and Pakistan and deliberated with key officials, days after the Taliban unveiled its interim government that included several persons, including acting Prime Minister Mullah Mohammad Hasan Akhund, who figure on the UN Security Council's terrorism blacklist.

CIA Director William Burns on Thursday met Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hamid, according to a statement issued by the Pakistan military's media affairs wing.

During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, the regional security situation and the current situation in Afghanistan were discussed, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

This is the first visit by a top-ranking US official to Pakistan, after the Taliban took over power in Afghanistan post the withdrawal of US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces.

 "It was reiterated that Pakistan remains committed to cooperating with its international partners for peace in the region and ensuring a stable and prosperous future for Afghan people," the statement said.

Burns pledged to play a role for further improvement in diplomatic cooperation with Pakistan at all levels, it added.

Significantly, Burns had visited India before going to Pakistan, “primarily to discuss ways to mitigate security threats that may emanate from Afghanistan”.

In India, Burns met National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and other senior officials of the National Security Secretariat on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has urged Pakistan to play a critical role in bringing an inclusive government in Kabul.

“We have been in regular touch with the Pakistani leadership and have discussed Afghanistan in detail,” a State Department spokesperson told Dawn on Tuesday when asked to comment on Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has frequently and publicly advocated for an inclusive government with broad support in Afghanistan and we look to Pakistan to play a critical role in enabling that outcome,” the official added.

The Taliban on Tuesday evening announced the new government in Afghanistan--almost three weeks after capturing Kabul--headed by Akhund, a close associate of the movement founder Mullah Omar. No member outside of the movement has been named part of the new dispensation.

Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the Haqqani network, designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, has been named head of the country’s interior ministry. The US State Department has offered a reward of up to USD 5 million on information leading to Haqqani’s arrest. Over two dozen other members of the government are blacklisted by the UN for their terrorism links.

(SAM)

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