US will Evaluate Pakistan-US Relations in the Light of Afghan’s Future

September 14, 2021

US State Secretary Antony Blinken said on Monday that the US will examine its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks to determine what role it wants to play in Afghanistan’s future. When Blinken testified before Congress about the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan, he heard from lawmakers from both parties who pushed for a tougher stance against Pakistan. Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests, some of which are in conflict with ours.”

“It is one that is constantly hedging its bets about the future of Afghanistan, one that is harboring Taliban members […] It is also involved in various points of counterterrorism cooperation with us,” Blinken explained. When asked by lawmakers if it is time for Washington to reconsider its relationship with Pakistan, Blinken stated that the administration would do so soon.

“This is one of the things we’ll be looking at in the coming days and weeks — the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years, but also the role we’d like to see it play in the coming years, and what it will take for it to do that,” he said. Blinken also urged Pakistan to deny the Afghan Taliban legitimacy unless they met international demands.

“What we have to look at is a focus that every country, including Pakistan, live up to the international community’s expectations of what is required of a Taliban-led government if it is to receive any legitimacy or support,” Blinken said. He stated that the priorities include ensuring that the Taliban release people who want to leave Afghanistan, respecting the rights of women, girls, and minorities, and keeping promises that the country will not become a “haven for outward-directed terror.”

“As a result, Pakistan must align with a large majority of the international community in working toward those goals and upholding those expectations,” Blinken said. Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro, one of several lawmakers to criticize Pakistan, has asked the US to reconsider its status as a major non-NATO ally, which gives Islamabad preferential access to US weaponry.

The US exit from Afghanistan resulted in a speedily organized airlift that left thousands of US-allied Afghans behind, and it was marked by a suicide bombing outside Kabul’s airport that killed 13 US troops and more than 80 Afghans. In the aftermath of the Taliban’s victory, the United States and Western countries are caught in a difficult balancing act, hesitant to recognize the group while accepting the reality that they will have to engage with them to avert a humanitarian crisis.

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