In weekly briefing, spokesperson reiterates call for international community to remain engaged with the new Taliban government in Afghanistan
The Foreign Office on Thursday described the U.S.’s desire to “reassess” its relationship with Pakistan as “surprising,” adding that such commentary was not in line with the “close cooperation” between the two countries.
“We have noted that the comments were not in line with the close cooperation between Pakistan and the United States,” Foreign Office spokesman Asim Iftikhar told a weekly press briefing over U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s statement to Congress earlier this week.
Testifying before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Blinken had said that while Islamabad and Washington have several mutual interests, some conflicts persisted. He said that the U.S. was looking at the role it would like Pakistan to play in the region, adding that Islamabad had been urged to not recognize the Taliban government in Afghanistan until it granted women their due rights and allowed Afghans who wished to leave the country to do so.
“This [Blinken’s comment] was surprising as Pakistan’s positive role in the Afghan peace process, recent facilitation of the multinational evacuation effort from Afghanistan, and continued support for an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan have been duly acknowledged, including most recently by the U.S. State Department spokesperson,” Iftikhar said. He said Islamabad had also played a critical role in helping the U.S. counter Al Qaeda’s core leadership in Afghanistan, as per the international coalition’s core objective.
“At the same time, Pakistan had always maintained that there was no military solution to the larger Afghan conflict and that a political settlement offered the only plausible pathway to sustainable peace in Afghanistan—a position now shared by the United States,” he said, adding that Pakistan and the U.S. shared a desire for achieving an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan that represents the country’s diversity. “We look forward to building on this convergence while also strengthening other aspects of a broad-based and constructive relationship,” he added.
To a question on Blinken urging Islamabad against lending legitimacy to the Taliban, Iftikhar said that Pakistan was under no pressure to recognize or not recognize the Taliban government. “We will take independent decisions in line with our interests,” he said.
The spokesperson commenced his briefing by reiterating a desire for the international community to continue engaging with the Taliban to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and ensure durable peace and stability in the war-torn state. “Well-being of the Afghan people should be the foremost priority,” he said, adding that Islamabad was actively engaging with the international community to achieve this.