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Ghani Oppose Pakistan’s Role in Afghanistan: US Denial

September 3, 2021

The US State Department has rejected former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s statement that tens of thousands of Pakistanis had linked the Taliban assault on Kabul. Instead, a senior State Department official lauded Pakistan and other partners for offering “opportunity to help” to the US’ initiatives to leave American troops and civilians from Afghanistan.

When asked to comment on Mr. Ghani’s claim, department spokesperson Ned Price said, “I’m just not in a position to speak on that, to affirm those reports.” Another question that the US official did not answer was whether Washington still deems Mr. Ghani to be Afghanistan’s rightful leader.

When asked if he would comment on another statement that Taliban militaries now in Kabul include foreign forces, Mr. Price said, “If we have something more, we’ll provide it.” However, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who also spoke at this Wednesday afternoon briefing, listed Pakistan as one of a dozen countries that provided critical assistance to US emergency exit attempts.

She said, “We are immensely grateful to the large network of countries that have offered opportunity to help for our evacuation efforts” naming Pakistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, and the UAE among those who helped with the evacuation. She also mentioned America’s key European allies, including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, among others, “who have supported transit Americans and others to safety.”

She said, “Our close cooperation with our allies and friends remains critical, not only in terms of evacuation and resettlement but also as we begin to define our enduring dialogue with the Afghan people and the Taliban”. The US media published extracts from a July 23 talk between President Joe Biden and Mr. Ghani on Wednesday. During that phone call, Mr. Biden prompts his Afghan side to give his Defense Minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, the authority to confront Taliban fighters in key population centers.

Mr. Ghani reacts by asserting that he is facing a “massive invasion” by the Taliban and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, the majority of whom are Pakistanis. In response to such allegations, Pakistan’s US Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan stated that Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan was being misrepresented.

He said, “Pakistan’s governance has repeatedly stated that we have no favorites in Afghanistan and would work with any Kabul government that has the help of the Afghan people”. “We persisted to encourage both the Afghan government and the Taliban to demonstrate flexibility and meaningful engagement in order to protect a political solution and a comprehensive ceasefire,” Mr Kahn said. “Admittedly, neither side was in a listening mood.”

Another State Department official told journalists in a separate meeting that the “significant proportion” of Afghans who worked for the US during its 20-year military campaign in Afghanistan has been left behind. When asked how many of those granted Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) had left Afghanistan with US forces, the official stated, “I would say the majority of them; based upon personal data about the populations we were capable of supporting.”

He said, In this first phase of the evacuation, US officials on the ground were “plagued by the options we had to create and the people we were unable to help depart.” It was not a pretty sight. “It was very difficult,” said the senior official, “and it engaged some really painful exchange and choices for everyone engaged.”

Even before to the US withdrawal, there were at least 20,000 SIV applicants in the pipeline, and the State Department has not supplied a specific count of how many of them were able to move to safety with US forces. During a press conference on Wednesday, Mr. Price told media that more than 31,000 people had reached in the US from Afghanistan between August 17 and August 31, with nearly 24,000 of them being “Afghans at stake,” a broad category that includes SIVs, other visa holders, those who adopt refugee status and others.

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