US bill contains waiver against possible sanctions

Published October 3, 2021
The US Capitol is seen as national guard members pass by on Capitol Hill in Washington. — AP/File
The US Capitol is seen as national guard members pass by on Capitol Hill in Washington. — AP/File

WASHINGTON: The US Senate bill that seeks to assess Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war and suggests sanctions, also includes a provision that allows President Joseph Biden to waive the restrictions.

Under this provision, the US president “may waive the application of sanctions under this title with respect to a foreign person if the president, not later 10 days before the waiver is to take effect, determines and certifies to the appropriate congressional committee that such a waiver is in the vital national security interests of the United States”.

The president, however, “shall submit with the certification a detailed justification explaining the reasons for the waiver”.

On Sept 27, twenty two Republican senators moved a bill in the US Senate that seeks to assess Pakistan’s alleged role in Afghanistan before and after the fall of Kabul and in the Taliban offensive in Panjshir Valley.

Democrats want to retain the option of continuing talks with Pakistan on future Afghan strategy

The bill addresses outstanding issues related to the “rushed and disastrous US withdrawal from Afghanistan,” pinning the blame on President Biden. In doing so, it ignores the US-Taliban agreement negotiated and signed by the Biden administration.

Democrats, who have majorities in both chambers of Congress, have so far stayed away from the move. They see it as aimed at scoring political points against President Biden.

Diplomatic sources in Washington say that the Biden administration believes the bill, if it becomes a law, can reduce the space for future talks with Pakistan.

According to these sources, Democrats too want to probe the sudden fall of Kabul and the claim that Pakistan facilitated it by providing alleged sanctuaries to the militants. But they also want to retain the option of continuing talks with Pakistan on a future Afghan strategy.

Pakistan rejects the claim of its involvement as unfounded and urges the US to focus instead on the unceremonious collapse of the Afghan military and the government.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2021

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