US hopes to continue working with Pakistan on Afghan issue

Published August 15, 2021
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks on foreign policy at the State Department in Washington, US. — Reuters/File
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks on foreign policy at the State Department in Washington, US. — Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: In an Independence Day message, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed the hope to continue to work with Pakistan to advance the Afghan peace process.

The top US diplomat also underlined 70 years of partnership between the two countries, hoping that this relationship will continue in years to come.

“We continue to collaborate to advance the Afghan peace process, boost economic ties, and address the climate crisis,” Secretary Blinken wrote.

“I look forward to strengthening our relationship in years to come as we look for opportunities to advance our shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia,” he added.

Blinken underlines 70 years of partnership with Islamabad

Prime Minister Imran Khan complained earlier this week that the United States saw his country as useful only for clearing the “mess” it was leaving behind in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan is just considered only to be useful in the context of somehow settling this mess which has been left behind after 20 years of trying to find a military solution when there was not one,” the prime minister told foreign journalists at a briefing in Islamabad.

In recent statements, US officials and lawmakers have pressed Pakistan to use its influence over the Taliban to broker a peace deal between Taliban insurgents and the Afghan government.

They want Pakistan to prevent a Taliban takeover of Kabul.

“For more than seven decades, the United States and Pakistan have worked together in partnership. Over the past year, we have expanded our cooperation in key areas such as health,” Secretary Blinken wrote.

He recalled that the United States was providing 5.5 million Moderna vaccine doses to Pakistan through Covax to help save lives and end the Covid-19 pandemic.

“On behalf of the government of the United States of America, I offer best wishes to the people of Pakistan as they celebrate their Independence Day.”

In a report released this week, the Brookings Institution, Washington, noted that amid the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and increasing violence on the ground there, “the US-Pakistan relationship stands in uneasy limbo.”

The report noted that “Pakistan has indicated repeatedly that it wants the relationship to be defined more broadly than with regard to Afghanistan” while Islamabad “doesn’t want failures in Afghanistan to be blamed on Pakistan.”

At the same time the US has made it clear that “it expects Pakistan to do more on Afghanistan in terms of pushing the Taliban toward a peace agreement with the Afghan government,” the report added.

Pakistan responded to this demand by saying it has exhausted its leverage over the Taliban.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2021

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