WASHINGTON: The United States has pledged not to allow the use of Afghan soil to launch attacks in Pakistan and act against such groups, while also blacklisting 10 companies for their alleged links to Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

Addressing the weekly press briefing on Wednesday, US State Department spokes­person Ned Price said the “broader goal” was to not allow terrorists to use Afghanis­tan as “a launch pad for attacks on Pakistan”.

“We are determined to work with our partners in the region, including Pakistan, to do what we can to take on the threat of terrorism in the region, and certainly the threat of terrorism that extends well beyond the region,” he added.

The US, Mr Price said, “demonstrated those capabilities in recent months with the killing of former Al Qaeda emir, Ayman Al Zawahiri.”

State Dept says terrorists won’t be allowed to regroup; 10 companies blacklisted for links with Pakistan’s nuclear programme

He said Al Zawahiri’s elimination pro­ved the US was capable of “making good” on President Joe Biden’s pledge of taking action against international terrorists regrouping in Afghanistan. “We will take action in a way that protects our interests.”

The spokesperson focused on how to help Pakistan deal with the threat emanating from Afghanistan at a time when US officials believe groups like Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) were reemerging in Afghanistan and that they have “a shared interest” with Pakistan in eliminating such groups.

Responding to a question about the re-emergence of terrorist groups in Afghanistan, Mr Price said this showed the Taliban were “either unable or unwilling” to live up to the commitments” to counterterrorism and ensuring that Afghanistan does not once again become a haven for international terrorists.

When reminded that the Trump administration had suspended its security cooperation with Pakistan, Mr Price said: “Pakistan is an important partner in a number of respects. We value that bilateral relationship. We welcome opportunities to expand cooperation in areas that are of mutual interest to us and Pakistan.”

The US official also noted that the Taliban have resumed public executions, amputations, and floggings in Afghanistan.

“We’ve seen the reports of a public execution today. We’ve seen despicable videos that have circulated online in recent days regarding some of these tactics,” he said.

“This indicates to us that the Taliban seek a return to their regressive and abusive practices of the 1990s. It was an affront to the dignity and the human rights of all Afghans then; it would be an affront to the dignity and the human rights of all Afghans now.”

US blacklists 10 companies

In a separate statement, the US Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) blacklisted 10 companies in Pakistan and the UAE, claiming that they posed “unacceptable risks of using or diverting items for Pakistan’s unsafeguarded nuclear activities or are involved in Pakistan’s “nuclear activities and missile proliferation-related activities”.

The BIS has added 24 companies and entities to an ‘export control list’ for allegedly supporting Russia’s military or defence industrial base, Pakistan’s nuclear activities or for supplying an Iranian electronics company.

Earlier on Nov 17, the BIS had updated its “due diligence guidance” for Pakistan, pointing out that the country has a nuclear and missile programme that is subject to end-use and end-user restrictions.

The guidance highlighted the supplemental licensing requirements applicable to exports, re-exports, and transfers (in-country) of items that may be destined for nuclear or missile activities.

The guidance also underlined restrictions on specific activities of US citizens to prevent the diversion of items to “unauthorised end-use and end users”.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2022

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