Foreign Office says sustained security cooperation between Washington, Islamabad will remain critical to counter any future terrorist threats in region
The Foreign Office on Wednesday described as “unwarranted” sections of a proposed U.S. bill that call for an investigation into Pakistan’s alleged support for the Taliban as part of a larger investigation into Washington’s hasty exit from Afghanistan.
“We see that a debate is underway in Washington, both in the media and on Capitol Hill, to reflect on and examine the circumstances leading to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan,” spokesperson Iftikhar Ahmad said in a statement responding to media queries on Pakistan’s stance. “The draft legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate by a group of Senate Republicans seems to be a reaction to this debate,” he added.
Describing references to Pakistan in the draft bill as “completely unwarranted,” the Foreign Office said they were inconsistent with the “spirit” of cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S. in Afghanistan since 2001, “including facilitation of the Afghan Peace Process and during the recent evacuations of American and other nationals from Afghanistan.”
Stressing that Pakistan had consistently maintained there was no military solution to the Afghan conflict, and that a coercive approach would not work, it said the “only way” to achieve sustainable peace was through dialogue and sustained engagement.
“Moreover, sustained security cooperation between Pakistan and the U.S. would remain critical in dealing with any future terrorist threat in the region,” it stressed. “Such proposed legislative measures are, therefore, uncalled for and counterproductive,” it added.
Earlier this week, 22 Republican U.S. senators tabled a bill, Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act, seeking an investigation into the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, as well as sanctions—if required—against the group and any states or individuals who had assisted in their takeover of Afghanistan.
The bill also seeks a probe into the “support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan” for the 2021 Taliban offensive that helped oust Ashraf Ghani, with a focus on sanctuary spaces, intelligence support, financial support, logistics, training and medical support.
Prior to the Foreign Office statement, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari had slammed the proposed bill, accusing the U.S. of trying to scapegoat Pakistan for its failures in Afghanistan. “This was never our war; we suffered 80,000 casualties, a decimated economy, over 450 drone attacks by our U.S. ‘ally’,” she said in a posting on Twitter and urged the U.S. to introspect and examine why it had failed to establish any stable governance structures despite investing $2 trillion in the war-torn state.