'Completely unwarranted': Pakistan pushes back on US scrutiny over Afghanistan

Foreign Ministry says move 'uncalled for, counterproductive' as US senators seek probe into support for Taliban.

'Completely unwarranted': Pakistan pushes back on US scrutiny over Afghanistan

References to Pakistan in a recent US Senate bill on Afghanistan are “completely unwarranted” and “inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation” between Islamabad and Washington, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

The draft legislation introduced by Republican lawmakers “seems to be a reaction” to a debate “underway in Washington … to reflect on and examine the circumstances leading to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said in a statement.

He was referring to a bill presented in the US Senate on Monday that calls for an analysis of the role of groups and countries, including Pakistan, in Afghanistan.

The lawmakers are seeking “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, financial support, intelligence support, logistics and medical support, training, equipping, and tactical, operational, or strategic direction.”

Ahmad said the proposed move is “uncalled for and counterproductive,” stressing that cooperation between Pakistan and the US is “critical in dealing with any future terrorist threat in the region.”

“The legislation includes references to Pakistan that are completely unwarranted,” he asserted.

“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 reiterated Islamabad’s stance against a “coercive approach” in Afghanistan, underlining that engagement and dialogue are imperative for sustainable peace.

The increasing scrutiny in the US of Islamabad’s actions in Afghanistan has drawn a reaction from several top Pakistani leaders, including Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post on Monday, Khan urged the US to stop blaming Pakistan for the outcome in Afghanistan.

“Watching the recent Congressional hearings on Afghanistan, I was surprised to see that no mention was made of Pakistan’s sacrifices as a US ally in the war on terror for more than two decades. Instead, we were blamed for America’s loss,” he wrote.

“Surely Pakistan is not to blame for the fact that 300,000-plus well-trained and well-equipped Afghan security forces saw no reason to fight the lightly armed Taliban. The underlying problem was an Afghan government structure lacking legitimacy in the eyes of the average Afghan.”

He also warned Washington against repeating its mistake of abandoning Afghanistan, saying it will “inevitably lead to a meltdown … chaos, mass migration, and a revived threat of international terror.”

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Hüseyin Demir

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