US secretary of state Antony Blinken on September 13 said that Pakistan has “harboured” members of the Taliban, including terrorists from the Haqqani Network. While speaking during his first testimony before Congress since the insurgents took control of Kabul, Blinken said that Pakistan needs to “line up” with a broad majority of the international community regarding the war-torn country. When asked about how the US sees Islamabad’s involvement in Afghanistan, the top US official said that Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests”, including some that are in “clear conflict” with that of the United States.
“What we have to look at is an insistence that every country, to include Pakistan, make good on the expectations that the international community has of what is required of a Taliban-led government if it’s to receive any legitimacy of any kind or any support,” Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
He added, “So Pakistan needs to line up with a broad majority of the international community in working toward those ends and in upholding those expectations”.
Pak involved in ‘hedging bets constantly’
Blinken even went on to say that India’s involvement in Afghanistan has influenced some “detrimental” actions by Pakistan. Further, during the testimony, US lawmaker Bill Keating reminded Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s remarks after the Taliban seized control. “Prime Minister Khan claimed Afghanistan had broken the shackles of slavery. So we used to always hear diplomatically that we have a complicated relationship with Pakistan. I would say it’s often duplicitous,” Keating said.
He added that Pakistan’s ISI had such strong ties in cooperation with the Haqqani Network, “responsible for so many things including the deaths of some of our soldiers, and even recently when the Taliban took over in the last month”. Keating then asked Blinken how the US can reassess that relationship, “how we learn from their actions” as well as a way forward.
Blinken responded by saying that Pakistan is involved “hedging its bets constantly” about the future of Afghanistan. “It’s one that’s involved harbouring members of the Taliban, including the Haqqanis. It’s one that’s also involved at different points, cooperation with us on counterterrorism, and so there are a number of things that have come into play it. It has a multiplicity of interests, some that are in conflict, clear conflict with ours,” he said.
Blinken added, “When it comes to Afghanistan, it’s focused, of course as well, on, on India and the role that India is playing in Afghanistan, and it looks at it through that prism as well. All of these things, I think, have influenced what it has done on many occasions detrimental to our interests. On other occasions in support of those interests”.
It is worth mentioning that Pakistan has repeatedly been accused of providing overt and covert support to the Taliban. Earlier, former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh had also asserted that the insurgent group is being micromanaged by Pakistan’s intelligence agency – the ISI. Saleh added that Islamabad is in charge of the war-torn nation effectively as a colonial power.