The US will look at the role Pakistan played in the last 20 years, Secretary of State Antony Blinken told angry lawmakers who expressed outrage over Pakistan’s "duplicitous" part in Afghanistan post 9/11 and demanded that Washington reassess its relationship with Islamabad.
The US lawmakers also urged the Biden administration to reassess Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally.
Blinken faced angry lawmakers on Monday who questioned the administration's response to the quick collapse of the Afghan government and the State Department's actions to evacuate Americans and others.
Congressman Joaquin Castro, the Democrat from Texas, asked Blinken that given Pakistan’s longtime support for the Taliban and harbouring the group’s leaders over the years, is it time for the US to reassess its relationship with Pakistan and reassess Islamabad’s status as a major non-NATO ally.
“For the reasons you cited as well as others, this is one of the things we will be looking at in the day and weeks ahead, the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years and the role we would want to see it play in the coming years,” Blinken responded to Castro, Chair of the Subcommittee on International Development, International Organisations and Global Corporate Social Impact.
Responding to a question on if he knew former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was planning to leave, the Secretary of State said he had spoken to Ghani on the night of August 14 who had stated “fight to the death” and was not aware of Ghani’s plan to leave Afghanistan.
Ghani left war-torn Afghanistan on August 15 as the Taliban entered the capital Kabul and said they were seeking complete power. The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, two weeks before the US was set to complete its troop withdrawal.
Observing that the relation with Pakistan bothers him, Congressman Bill Keating, Chair House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment and House Armed Services Committee, said Islamabad has played by all accounts a negative role in Afghan affairs for decades.
They created, named, and helped the Taliban regroup in 2010 in Pakistan and the ISI has strong ties with the Haqqani Network which is responsible for the death of US soldiers, Keating said. Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan celebrated the Taliban takeover of
Kabul, describing it as “breaking the shackles of slavery,” he added.
“Congress has been told that relations with Pakistan are complicated, I say it is duplicitous,” Keating said, adding that the United States needs to reassess its relations with Pakistan.
Over the past several months, the Indian embassy here led by ambassador Taranjit Singh Sandhu has been making an intensive outreach to eminent US Congressmen and senators.
Congressman Scott Perry said Pakistan supports the Haqqani Network and the Taliban with the US taxpayers’ money, asserting the US must no longer pay Pakistan and revoke its non-NATO ally status.
With the open support given by the ISI to the Taliban and Haqqani Network, it is time to consider stronger relations with India, said Republican Congressman Mark Green, Ranking Member of the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration and International Economic Policy.