Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari accuses Washington of trying to ‘scapegoat’ Pakistan for its failures in Kabul
Senators in the U.S. have tabled a bill seeking a detailed probe into the Taliban’s swift victory in Afghanistan, including an assessment of Pakistan’s alleged role in the country before and after the ouster of the Ashraf Ghani-led government.
The Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight and Accountability Act was introduced by Senator Jim Risch—a ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—and 21 other Republican lawmakers. It aims at requiring the “imposition of sanctions with respect to the Taliban and persons assisting the Taliban in Afghanistan, and for other purposes.”
The proposed legislation states that the secretary of state, in consultation with the secretary of defense and the director of national intelligence, must submit a report—no later than 180 days after the enactment of the bill and annually thereafter—to appropriate congressional committees on entities providing support to the Taliban. It also seeks reports on America’s counterterrorism strategy for Afghanistan, including whether Kabul was taking “meaningful” action to prevent Afghan soil from being used by terrorist groups; and Washington’s strategy for its relations with South and Central Asian countries following the exit from Afghanistan.
The first report, per the proposed bill, should include “an assessment of support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan, for the Taliban between 2001 and 2020,” including sanctuary space, financial support, intelligence support, logistics and medical support, training, equipping, and tactical, operation or strategic direction. It also seeks an assessment of support by state and non-state actors, including Pakistan, for the Taliban’s September 2021 offensive against resistance fighters based in Panjshir Valley.
The proposed legislation stresses that that the February 2020 agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban had committed to a reduction in violence in Afghanistan; talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government; and counterterrorism guarantees. “The Taliban failed to meet their commitments,” it says. It also notes that the hasty U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has the potential to further destabilize Afghanistan, which could once again cause the country to become a safe haven for militant groups such as Al Qaeda and Daesh.
In a bid to keep abreast of any security concerns, the bill directs the secretary of state to establish a task force dedicated to accounting for all U.S. citizens based in Afghanistan and their safe departure, if so desired; lawful permanent residents; and applicants for the special immigrant visa program. “Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this act, the Secretary of State shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report detailing lessons learned from the task force,” it adds.
The bill also urges the U.S. to Identification of areas where Washington could strengthen diplomatic, economic, and defense cooperation with India to address “economic and security challenges posed by the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation, and the Taliban in the region, and an assessment of how the changes to India’s security environment resulting from the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan will affect United States engagement with India.”
The bill calls on the U.S. government to not recognize the diplomatic credentials of any person affiliated with the Taliban, including the ambassador of Afghanistan to the U.S. It also states that the U.S. should use its influence at the U.N. to block the issuance of credentials to any member of the delegation of Afghanistan to the U.N. General Assembly that is also a member of the Taliban; and ensure that no member of the Taliban serves in a leadership position in any U.N. body, fund, program, or specialized agency. The bill says Washington should back a resolution on human rights abuses committed by the Taliban at the U.N. Human Rights Council and call for the immediate deployment of human rights monitors to Afghanistan under the special procedures of the Council.
In a statement, Senator Risch said the U.S. exit from Afghanistan had left many American citizens and Afghans stranded in the war-torn state and could cause a renewed terror threat. He said it was wrong of the Taliban to seek recognition and acceptance at the U.N. “even as they suppress the rights of Afghan women and girls.”
Pakistan being punished
Pakistan’s Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari slammed the U.S. for making Islamabad “pay heavy price” for being an ally in the war on terror. She stressed that despite being in Afghanistan for 20 years, the U.S. and NATO had left behind no “stable” governance structures. “Pakistan now being scapegoated for this failure. This was never our war; we suffered 80,000 casualties, a decimated economy, over 450 drone attacks by our U.S. ‘ally’ and disastrous fallout of these attacks on our tribal people and area,” she said in a series of posts on Twitter.
Calling on the U.S. Senate to “introspect,” she said they should examine where the $2 trillion spent by Washington in Afghanistan had been spent and why the Afghan National Army had collapsed. “Who asked Pakistan to free the [Afghan Taliban] leadership? Who signed Doha agreement with the [Afghan Taliban] and hosted them in D.C.?” she asked.
“Enough is enough. It is time for those powers who were present in Afghanistan to look to their own failures instead of targeting Pakistan, which paid a heavy price in lives lost, social and economic costs, refugees—all for being an ally and suffering constant abuse, in a war that wasn’t ours,” she added.