WASHINGTON: The US State Department has urged Pakistan to play a constructive role in persuading the Taliban to fulfil their commitments.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a congressional hearing on Monday that the United States would be looking at its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks to formulate what role Washington would want Islamabad to play in the future of Afghanistan.
“We have been in regular touch with Pakistani counterparts as well as Pakistani leadership. We’ve discussed Afghanistan in some detail,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a Wednesday afternoon news briefing in Washington.
When asked to comment on the secretary’s statement, the spokesperson said Mr Blinken was referring to the public statements Pakistan and other countries in the region had made to support the people of Afghanistan.
State Department spokesperson says ‘we all have to ensure that we are all walking in the same direction’
Secretary Blinken, he said, wanted these countries to “work constructively… to see to it that the priorities that we share (are met)”. The priorities include humanitarian concerns, protecting the rights of the Afghan people and the gain made during the last 20 years of American presence in Afghanistan, he added.
“We all have to ensure that we are all walking in the same direction,” said Mr Price while emphasising the need to ensure that Afghanistan was no longer used as a launching pad for terrorist attacks on other countries.
Mr Price recalled that Pakistan had frequently advocated for an inclusive government with broad support in Afghanistan and “we are going to continue to look to Pakistan and to other countries in the region to make good on their public statements, on commitments they have made”.
The commitments include “working constructively with the US and the international community to ensure that they were on the same page on shared priorities, including the humanitarian concerns, rights and gains of the Afghan people over the past 20 years as well as counterterrorism concerns,” he added.
Mr Price noted that Pakistan participated in the ministerial that Secretary Blinken and his German counterpart convened last week at Ramstein Airbase in Germany. “Pakistan contributed to that forum, echoing much of what we heard from other participants,” he said.
“And there was a good deal of consensus that the gains of the past 20 years, especially on the part of Afghanistan’s women, girls, and minorities, — preserving those is in everyone’s interests. Easing the humanitarian plight of the people of Afghanistan is in everyone’s interest. That includes Pakistan as well as countries that may be farther afield,” he said.
Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2021