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Legislation in US Senate seeks report on Pak’s role in Taliban offensive, Islamabad says move ‘unwarranted’

Twenty-two Republican senators on Tuesday introduced the legislation in the Senate to impose sanctions on the Taliban in Afghanistan and on all the foreign governments that support the hardline Islamic group that seized power in Kabul.

By: PTI | Islamabad, Washington |
Updated: September 30, 2021 5:52:43 pm
Taliban soldiers in Panjshir province, northeastern of Afghanistan. (AP/File)

A legislation has been introduced in the US Senate seeking a report from the Secretary of State about his assessment of Pakistan’s role in the Taliban offensive that led to the toppling of the US-backed Afghan government and its support for Taliban offensive in Panjshir Valley, prompting Islamabad to term the move as “unwarranted”.

Twenty-two Republican senators on Tuesday introduced the legislation in the Senate to impose sanctions on the Taliban in Afghanistan and on all the foreign governments that support the hardline Islamic group that seized power in Kabul.

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The ‘Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight and Accountability Act’ also seeks a report from the Secretary of State about his assessment of Pakistan’s role in supporting the Taliban from 2001-2020; in the offensive that led to the toppling of the Government of Afghanistan and the looking into the Pakistan support for Taliban offensive against Panjshir Valley and Afghan resistance.

On Wednesday, Pakistan said that the reference made towards the country in the legislation introduced in the US congress was “unwarranted”.

In response to media queries about the draft bill introduced by US Senators, the Foreign Office said in Islamabad that the draft legislation seems to be a reaction to the debate that 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.

Taliban fighters outside Kabul University, Afghanistan (AP)

“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 FO said in a statement.

It said Pakistan consistently maintained that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and a coercive approach would not work, adding that the only way to achieve long term sustainable peace in Afghanistan was through engagement and dialogue.

Moreover, sustained security cooperation between Pakistan and the United States would remain critical in dealing with any future terrorist threat in the region, said FO.

It went to declare the proposed legislative measures as “uncalled for and counterproductive”.

Afghan women stand outside their tents in an open area on the outskirts of Chaman, a border town in the Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan province. (AP)

The Taliban swept across Afghanistan last month, seizing control of almost all key towns and cities in the backdrop of withdrawal of the US forces that began on May 1. On August 15, the capital city of Kabul fell to the insurgents.

The Taliban claimed victory over opposition forces in the last holdout province of Panjshir on September 6, completing their takeover of Afghanistan three weeks after capturing Kabul.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed rejected allegations by the US administration that his country provided any military support to the Taliban.

“The US is accusing us that we facilitated Taliban but we only facilitated them to bring them to the table at the request of US,” he said addressing a ceremony in Islamabad on Wednesday.

Rashid said Pakistan was making efforts that the world should engage with the Taliban to bring peace in the war-torn country. “We are standing with the world and we want the world to stand with Afghanistan in this difficult situation,” he said.

On New Zealand cricket squad’s decision to call off a tour of Pakistan in the wake on security threats, Rashid said the “entire New Zealand army is not as large as the security we provided to them in Pakistan.” He said Pakistan cricket would move on as well as the country despite challenges.

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