Karachi-Born US Senator Van Hollen Stands Up For Pakistan During Afghanistan Hearing

Maryland Democrat Chis Van Hollen, a key US senator who was born in Karachi, said it was the Trump administration that asked Pakistan to release the top three Taliban leaders for US-Taliban peace talks in Doha Qatar. He was speaking at a recent US Senate hearing on the fall of Kabul to the Taliban and the chaotic US withdrawal that followed the Afghan Army collapse

Senator Chris Van Hollen


Senator Chris Van Hollen was born in 1959 in Karachi where his father was serving as a foreign service officer at the US Embassy in Karachi, Pakistan. His father later served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs (1969–1972) and US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives (1972–1976). His mother worked for the CIA as chief of the intelligence bureau for South Asia.

“Is it not the fact that the Trump administration asked the Pakistani government to release three top Taliban commanders as part of that (peace) process?” Senator Van Hollen asked. Targeting the Trump administration, Van Hollen continued, “And so, we pick a date. We say to the Taliban you can attack Afghan forces and then we say, now let’s negotiate the future of Afghanistan. Isn’t the way it was set up when you walked in?” “That’s essentially, yes," Blinken replied.   

Referring to allegations of Pakistan's complicity in promoting chaos in Afghanistan, Senator Van Hollen said, “I think a number of those countries, at least Pakistan — like India, like the others — have an interest in preventing chaos and civil war in Afghanistan".

Here's the exchange between Van Hollen and Blinken at the Afghanistan hearing on Capitol Hill:

 Van Hollen: “Is it not the fact that the Trump administration asked the Pakistani government to release three top Taliban commanders as part of that process?” 

Blinken: “That’s correct".

Van Hollen: “And one of them is now number two in the Taliban government, Baradar, right?”

Blinken: “That’s correct.” 

Van Hollen: “He is the person everybody saw in those photos in Kabul, right?” 

Mr Blinken: “That’s correct.” 

Van Hollen: “And there was another senior commander, and they began the discussions in Doha.” 

Blinken: “That’s right.” 

Van Hollen: “They (US negotiators) did not include the Afghan government, did they?” 

Blinken: “That’s right, correct.” 

Van Hollen: “And they in fact essentially ordered, pressured, the Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners, right?” 

Blinken: “That’s correct.” 

Van Hollen: “Many of those fighters are involved in the attack on Kabul today, right?” 

Blinken: “Yes.” 

Van Hollen: “Now, let’s see what the negotiation was: the US will leave by a certain date in May this year, right?” 

Blinken: “Correct.” 

Van Hollen: “You can’t attack American forces, but you can attack the Afghan forces with impunity, right?” 

Blinken: “That’s correct.” 

Van Hollen: “And so, we pick a date. We say to the Taliban you can attack Taliban forces and then we say, now let’s negotiate the future of Afghanistan. Isn’t the way it was set up when you walked in?”

Blinken: “That’s essentially, yes.” . 

British Defense Forces Chief General Sir Nick Carter is another western leader who has defended Pakistan recently. Responding to the familiar charge of "safe havens" for Taliban in Pakistan, General Nick Carter told BBC's Yalda Hakim that Pakistanis have hosted millions of Afghan refugees for many years and "they end up with all sorts of people". "We would be very worried if they heartlessly kicked out" the Afghans from Pakistan. He said that Pakistan's Army Chief General Bajwa genuinely wants to see a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. 

Carter Malkasian, former advisor to US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Dunford, has also recently talked about how Afghan governments have scapegoated Pakistan for their own failures. He said: "Let’s take Pakistan, for example. Pakistan is a powerful factor here. But on the battlefield, if 200 Afghan police and army are confronted with 50 Taliban or less than that, and those government forces retreat, that doesn’t have a lot to do with Pakistan. That has to do with something else". 

In another discussion,  Malkasian explained the rapid advance of the Taliban and the collapse of the Afghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani. Here's what he said:

Over time, aware of the government’s vulnerable position, Afghan leaders turned to an outside source to galvanize the population: Pakistan. Razziq, President Hamid Karzai and later President Ashraf Ghani used Pakistan as an outside threat to unite Afghans behind them. They refused to characterize the Taliban as anything but a creation of Islamabad. Razziq relentlessly claimed to be fighting a foreign Pakistani invasion. Yet Pakistan could never fully out-inspire occupation.  

Many westerners, including politicians, generals, analysts and journalists, are angry with Pakistan for the stinging US defeat in Afghanistan. They are trying to scapegoat Pakistan for the West's failed policies. Some want to punish Pakistan. However, many of them also recognize the importance of Pakistan in dealing with the aftermath of the Afghan fiasco. American analyst Michael Kugelman recently tweeted about America's use of Pakistani airspace (ALOCS) for "over-the-horizon" counter-terrorism ops in Afghanistan, underlining Pakistan's importance to the United States.  

US Analyst Michael Kugelman on American Reliance on Pakistan

A recent piece in Politico summed up US reliance on Pakistan as follows :

"The Biden administration has been unusually circumspect about revealing its contacts and discussions with Pakistan. While Pakistan’s actions often appear at odds with the United States, it nonetheless is a nation with links to the Afghan Taliban whose cooperation on fighting terrorism can be helpful. It’s also a nuclear-armed country American officials would prefer not to lose entirely to Chinese influence".  

Views: 593

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 16, 2021 at 12:48pm

The #US War on Terror Was Corrupt From the Start. Look under the hood of the “good war,” and this (#corruption) is what you see. #WarOnTerror #Afghanistan #Ghani #Karazi #Taliban #contractors https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/13/opinion/afghanistan-war-economy....

The war in Afghanistan wasn’t a failure. It was a massive success — for those who made a fortune off it.

Consider the case of Hikmatullah Shadman, who was just a teenager when American Special Forces rolled into Kandahar on the heels of Sept. 11. They hired him as an interpreter, paying him up to $1,500 a month — 20 times the salary of a local police officer, according to a profile of him in The New Yorker. By his late 20s, he owned a trucking company that supplied U.S. military bases, earning him more than $160 million.

If a small fry like Shadman could get so rich off the war on terror, imagine how much Gul Agha Sherzai, a big-time warlord-turned-governor, has raked in since he helped the C.I.A. run the Taliban out of town. His large extended family supplied everything from gravel to furniture to the military base in Kandahar. His brother controlled the airport. Nobody knows how much he is worth, but it is clearly hundreds of millions — enough for him to talk about a $40,000 shopping spree in Germany as if he were spending pocket change.

Look under the hood of the “good war,” and this is what you see. Afghanistan was supposed to be an honorable war to neutralize terrorists and rescue girls from the Taliban. It was supposed to be a war that we woulda coulda shoulda won, had it not been for the distraction of Iraq and the hopeless corruption of the Afghan government. But let’s get real. Corruption wasn’t a design flaw in the war. It was a design feature. We didn’t topple the Taliban. We paid warlords bags of cash to do it.

As the nation-building project got underway, those warlords were transformed into governors, generals and members of Parliament, and the cash payments kept flowing.

“Westerners often scratched their heads at the persistent lack of capacity in Afghan governing institutions,” Sarah Chayes, a former special assistant to U.S. military leaders in Kandahar, wrote recently in Foreign Affairs. “But the sophisticated networks controlling those institutions never intended to govern. Their objective was self-enrichment. And at that task, they proved spectacularly successful.”

Instead of a nation, what we really built were more than 500 military bases — and the personal fortunes of the people who supplied them. That had always been the deal. In April 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dictated a top-secret memo ordering aides to come up with “a plan for how we are going to deal with each of these warlords — who is going to get money from whom, on what basis, in exchange for what, what is the quid pro quo, etc.,” according to The Washington Post.

The war proved enormously lucrative for many Americans and Europeans, too. One 2008 study estimated that some 40 percent of the money allocated to Afghanistan went back to donor countries in corporate profits and consultant salaries. Only about 12 percent of U.S. reconstruction assistance given to Afghanistan between 2002 and 2021 actually went to the Afghan government. Much of the rest went to companies like the Louis Berger Group, a New Jersey-based construction firm that got a $1.4 billion contract to build schools, clinics and roads. Even after it got caught bribing officials and systematically overbilling taxpayers, the contracts kept coming.

“It’s a bugbear of mine that Afghan corruption is so frequently cited as an explanation (as well as an excuse) for Western failure in Afghanistan,” Jonathan Goodhand, a professor in conflict and development studies at SOAS University of London, wrote me in an email. Americans “point the finger at Afghans, whilst ignoring their role in both fueling and benefiting from the patronage pump.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 16, 2021 at 4:40pm

#China, #Russia bring #Iran, #Pakistan into fold to face #Afghanistan crisis jointly. Top diplomats from China, Russia, Iran & Pakistan met Thursday for their first quadrilateral summit on the sidelines of the SCO summit in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.
https://www.newsweek.com/china-russia-bring-iran-pakistan-fold-face...

"Acting in good faith," he (Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov) added, "we can make a difference in creating necessary external conditions for the Afghans to get their destiny in their own hands, without any threats emanating from the Afghan territory in regards to terrorism, drug trafficking, and without any risks and challenges created from the territory of Afghanistan to its neighbors."

In a readout released following their discussions, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that "approaches were compared on issues of facilitating establishment of peace, stability and security in Afghanistan, while the necessity to establish national reconciliation in the country was stressed."

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also reported positive results.

"At the meeting, the top diplomats supported the formation of an inclusive government with the participation of all ethnic groups in Afghanistan," the Iranian side said in its own account of the four-way talks. "An Afghanistan free of terrorism, free of drugs and free of threats against its neighbors was another topic on the agenda."

The meeting is the latest platform among involving regional countries to address the situation in Afghanistan, where the international country at large remains concerned about the Taliban's ability to stabilize the war-torn nation and curb the spread of militant groups known to operate there.

The security climate across Afghanistan and its periphery also dominated a meeting held Thursday by member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a post-Soviet, Russia-led alliance that also includes Armenia and Belarus as well as the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

"The situation in the CSTO's zone of responsibility and on the external borders of its member states remains unstable and spells new and truly acute challenges and risks for the security of our countries," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Putin was slated to stage another appearance at Friday's Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) leaders' summit also taking place in Dushanbe. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan also count themselves as members of the SCO, as do China, India, Pakistan and Uzbekistan.

Iran, like Afghanistan, Belarus and Mongolia, is an SCO observer state. But the Islamic Republic is expected to receive full membership as Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi traveled to Tajikistan to appear in person alongside Pakistani Foreign Minister Imran Khan and other leaders, while Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were scheduled to speak virtually.


----
While these differences continue to exist, the situation in Afghanistan has presented a path for Beijing, Moscow, Tehran and Islamabad to overcome their differences and coalesce. It was also an opportunity to present to the world an alternative order to that advertised by the United States.

The U.S. has accused both China and Russia of pursuing destabilizing moves across the globe, and has instituted tough sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Relations between the U.S. and Pakistan have also strained due to the former's warming relationship with India and the latter's long-cultivated ties to the Taliban.

The emerging dynamic reverses Cold War-era interactions that saw the U.S. and Pakistan on one side of the decades-long geopolitical dispute, and the Soviet Union and India on the other. India and Russia still maintain warm relations, but the SCO has sought to bring all regional parties together, leaving the U.S. on the sidelines.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 17, 2021 at 8:10am

Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad on Thursday said that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's remarks earlier this week, in which he had said the United States would be reassessing its relationship with Pakistan, were "not in line with the close cooperation" between the two countries.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1646731

He made the comment in response to a question during his weekly press conference in Islamabad.

Terming Blinken's statement a "surprise", the spokesperson noted that Pakistan's positive role in the Afghan peace process, facilitation of the multinational evacuation effort from the war-torn country, and continued support for an inclusive political settlement had been "duly acknowledged", including by the US state department spokesperson in his press briefing on Wednesday.

Ahmad recalled that Pakistan had played a "critical role" in helping the US degrade Al Qaeda's core leadership in Afghanistan which was the international coalition's main objective.

Pakistan had "always maintained" that there was no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and a political settlement was the only plausible pathway to sustainable peace in the country, he further noted, adding that the stance was now shared by the US.

Ahmad said that achieving an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan that reflected the country's diversity and protected the gains made during the last two decades remained a "shared objective" of Pakistan and the US.

"We look forward to building on this convergence while also strengthening other aspects of a broad-based and constructive relationship," he added.

'Some conflicting interests'
While testifying before Congress on Monday on the Taliban victory in Afghanistan, Blinken had said the US would be looking at its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks to formulate what role Washington would want it to play in the future of Afghanistan.

Blinken told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee that Pakistan had a "multiplicity of interests, [with] some that are in conflict with ours".

Asked by lawmakers if it was time for Washington to reassess its relationship with Pakistan, Blinken said the administration would soon be doing that.

"This is one of the things we're going to be looking at in the days, and weeks ahead — the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years but also the role we would want to see it play in the coming years and what it will take for it to do that," he said.

Asked about Blinken's remarks in his press briefing on Wednesday, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the US had been in regular touch with Pakistan and had discussed the situation in Afghanistan in detail.

"Pakistan, we know, has frequently advocated for an inclusive government with broad support in Afghanistan, and what the secretary was referring to yesterday is that 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," Price said.

These commitments included 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.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 21, 2021 at 6:39am

Sour grapes India: Pakistan has clearly won in Afghanistan
September 21, 2021, 2:52 PM IST

By Sunil Sharan in Strategic Insights, India, World, TOI

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/strategic-insights/sour-g...

Much hand-wringing and hair-pulling is going on in India over Pakistan’s “1971” moment. Actually Pakistan has had two 1971 moments. Once when they ejected the Soviets from Afghanistan in 1989, and now.

--------------

The fight then is clear. It is white Christian nations versus brown Muslim nations. The US has been involved in the following campaigns after 9/11: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen. All Muslim nations. It has met defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and been dealt a bruising blow in Libya, Syria and Yemen. Estimate of Muslim lives lost from war and displacement caused by war since 9/11 vary between five and ten million.

----------------

Much is being made of Blinken’s statement that the US would like to see Pakistan evolve the way it, the US, wishes. This is just wishful thinking. When the Americans were all over Afghanistan (and Pakistan), they could not force the Pakistanis to do what they wanted to do. Now that they have hightailed out of Afghanistan, are we expected to believe that the US has more leverage over Pakistan now than before?

---------------------

Other than the US, the country that has clearly lost out in Afghanistan is India. For 20 years, India has poured over $3 billion in aid and reconstruction into Afghanistan, all of which, in a jiffy, has just landed in the hands of the Taliban. Pakistan has now become without doubt emboldened to launch a second jihad to liberate Kashmir from India. India cannot be naïve and altruistic anymore. It has to ramp up support for Pakistan’s Baloch rebels as well as instigate the Taliban in amalgamating Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province into Afghanistan, a long-cherished dream of its.


India just cannot afford to be a mute and idle spectator in the AfPak region. Its very survival is at risk. Pakistan has often accused India of fomenting terrorism in its own territory through the Pakistani Taliban. But think about this. The Pakistani Taliban wants to impose sharia in Pakistan, just as it’s been now imposed in Afghanistan.

But Pakistan’s Muslims are Hinduized. They don’t want sharia, just as India doesn’t want an enormous territory on its western flank under sharia. It is in India’s interest that Pakistan stays Hinduized. Why then would India support the Pakistani Taliban?

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 21, 2021 at 1:01pm

Iran first welcomed #Taliban victory but assault on the #PanjshirValley changed #Iran. Iranian media falsely alleged #Pakistan military was assisting Taliban offensive, an allegation had earlier been made in hysterical clown show that is the #Indian media https://www.arabnews.pk/node/1931971#.YUo3sMOIEtw.twitter

by Zarrar Khuro

"Brinkmanship may be a hallmark of Iranian policy but it only works when you know for sure where the brink actually is"

---------

When Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met Iranian President Seyed Ibrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Dushanbe, it was perhaps without the bonhomie that would ordinarily accompany such a meeting. But then these are extraordinary times, with the Taliban sweeping to power after the escape of Ashraf Ghani who, from the confines of his ivory tower in Kabul, perhaps imagined that the US would never abandon him and who also made the cardinal sin of believing his own spin.
As the region and the world attempts to reconcile itself with the new reality, Iran seems increasingly discomfited despite initially having welcomed ‘the military defeat and withdrawal of the United States’ from Afghanistan. Soon after the Taliban took Kabul, Iran resumed fuel supplies to Afghanistan in what was seen as an attempt to, if not normalize relations, then to at least not start off on the wrong foot with the new rulers of Kabul. But then once the Taliban assault on the Panjshir Valley began, the messaging from Iran became curious indeed, with Iranian media alleging that the Pakistan military was assisting the Taliban offensive with special forces and drone strikes. This allegation had previously been made in the hysterical clown show that is the Indian media which, true to form, used old footage from air exercises in Wales and Arizona and the occasional video game to illustrate its farcical reports. But even that spectacle was less surreal than seeing Iranian media quoting Fox News (not exactly known for its fair and balanced approach toward Iran) which in turn quoted an anonymous CENTCOM (which is listed as a terrorist organization in Iran) source as the origin of this ‘report.’
Now, one could argue that these are media reports and thus by no means an official state narrative-- but then just a few days back, an Iranian MP repeated the allegation, even going so far as to accuse Pakistan of using Chechen veterans of the Syrian civil war in this alleged assault. Now this is amusing because it’s not so much the pot calling the kettle black, but the pot actually inventing a kettle; if anyone can be accused of using proxy forces as an extension of foreign policy it is Iran, which has used sectarian militias operating under the aegis of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to project power and influence across the Middle East, from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon. It’s been a rather successful and relatively low-cost strategy, the transnational nature of which was on full display when on September 16, a convoy of Iranian fuel trucks entered Lebanon through Syria and was welcomed by Hezbollah members. A successful strategy begs to be replicated in other theaters and so Iran likely bet on doing the same in an Afghanistan where the Taliban and government forces would remain in a military deadlock for some time to come. In that scenario, not only would Ismail Khan of Herat prove an invaluable asset, but a prolonged conflict may also have provided the opportunity to redeploy the Liwa Fatemiyoun, a militia comprised of Afghan Shias which saw extensive action in Iraq and Syria. Even if that deployment never took place, Iran would still have been able to use the good offices of its main Afghan ally, warlord Ismail Khan of Herat, to project influence in a post-US dispensation.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 21, 2021 at 1:02pm

Iran first welcomed #Taliban victory but assault on the #PanjshirValley changed #Iran. Iranian media falsely alleged #Pakistan military was assisting Taliban offensive, an allegation had earlier been made in hysterical clown show that is the #Indian media https://www.arabnews.pk/node/1931971#.YUo3sMOIEtw.twitter

by Zarrar Khuro

"Brinkmanship may be a hallmark of Iranian policy but it only works when you know for sure where the brink actually is"

If anyone can be accused of using proxy forces as an extension of foreign policy it is Iran, which has used sectarian militias operating under the aegis of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to project power and influence across the Middle East, from Iraq to Syria and Lebanon.

------

Instead, Ismail Khan fled to Iran after surrendering to the Taliban and the quick conclusion to the fighting meant that Iran would gain no strategic depth in Afghanistan the way it had in Iraq and beyond. But that alone cannot explain Iran’s ire toward Pakistan, which it likely sees as having gained influence at Tehran’s expense, and so we must cast a broader net and switch our view from geostrategy to geoeconomics and in particular the future trade routes that may crisscross this region.
Iran’s desire to become the primary trade route through which exports from Afghanistan, and eventually transit trade from Central Asia would reach the world has also seen a setback especially in the context of talks regarding operationalizing the transit trade agreement between Uzbekistan and Pakistan, which would see transit trade being shifted from Iranian ports to Pakistani ports. Not only is that bad news for Bandar Abbas, it’s also yet another blow to Iranian hopes to further develop the Chabahar port, a joint project between Tehran and New Delhi.
Chabahar had already been suffering from delays and had also been seeing declining volumes due to the pandemic. The Taliban takeover then, may prove to be the final nail in the coffin of this already-troubled project and the fate of the transit agreement signed by the Ghani government with India and Iran is also now uncertain. None of this is good news for a cash-strapped Iran.
Despite this, the targeting of Pakistan by Iranian media and officials does seem like a strategic miscalculation, given Iran’s preoccupations in the Middle East. Brinkmanship may be a hallmark of Iranian policy, but it only works when you know for sure where the brink actually is.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 24, 2021 at 7:51am

#Blinken Sees 'Strong Unity of Approach' on #Taliban After Talks With #Pakistan, Key Regional Players. Pakistan says the world has “a moral obligation” to collectively work to help the #Afghan people to avert #humanitarian crisis. #US #Afghanistan https://www.voanews.com/a/blinken-sees-strong-unity-of-approach-on-...

Qureshi “hoped that the world would not repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan,” according to the statement.

The U.S. State Department said Blinken stressed “the importance of coordinating our diplomatic engagement and facilitating the departure of those wishing to leave Afghanistan” in his talks with Qureshi.

The Taliban swept through Afghanistan in August, after Washington and Western allies withdrew their troops in line with U.S. President Joe Biden’s orders that there was no point in extending America's longest war beyond 20 years.

The Islamist movement’s return to power prompted the Biden administration to swiftly block billions of dollars held in U.S. reserves for Kabul, while the World Bank and International Monetary Fund both halted Afghanistan’s access to crucial funding amid worries about the fate of Afghan basic human rights under Taliban rule.

Blinken told reporters Thursday the Afghan issue was the focus of his multilateral and bilateral meetings, including with counterparts from Russia and China. He said the Taliban continue to seek legitimacy and international support for their rule in Kabul, saying the world is united on how to deal with Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

“I think there is very strong unity of approach and unity of purpose... again, the Taliban says that it seeks legitimacy, that it seeks support from the international community; the relationship that it has with the international community is going to be defined by the actions it takes. That’s what we’re looking for,” Blinken stressed.

He reiterated U.S. priorities for the Islamist group, including allowing Afghans and foreign nationals to leave the country, respecting human rights, particularly for women, girls and minorities, preventing terrorist groups from using Afghanistan to threaten other countries, and forming a “genuinely inclusive government” that can reflect aspirations of the Afghan people.

The Taliban have dismissed criticism of their male-only interim cabinet, saying it represents all Afghan ethnicities and it promised to “very soon” bring women on board.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban) has writ all over the country and enjoy grassroots support. We truly represent the aspirations of the people of Afghanistan and are ready to engage with the world,” Suhail Shaheen, whom the Taliban have nominated as their permanent representative to the U.N., said Friday.

---
Pakistan, China, and Russia have all moved to engage with the Taliban and have been urging the global community to engage with and help the new rulers in Kabul meet urgent humanitarian needs of Afghans.

They have demanded unfreezing of Afghan assets and removal of other economic sanctions on Kabul but they also have linked recognition of the new Taliban government until it delivers on its stated commitments.

“Just as an overwhelming majority of countries around the world, we prefer to most closely watch what the Taliban have been doing in Afghanistan, what final shape the structure of power in that country will take, and how the given promises will be fulfilled. We are monitoring this very closely,” Russian media quoted presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying Friday.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, while addressing a virtual conference of G-20 foreign ministers on Thursday, also underscored the importance of the Taliban ensuring a broad and inclusive governance system in Kabul but slammed the freezing of Afghan assets by the U.S. and international lending institutions.

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 24, 2021 at 9:47am

Exclusive: Pakistani Leader Imran Khan Says Taliban Can Be America's Partner for Peace
Inbox

https://www.newsweek.com/2021/10/08/exclusive-pakistani-leader-imra...


IMran Khan: "For its part, the United States has divested a liability—its costly military intervention—which, as the U.S. President has himself admitted, was not a strategic priority for the United States. Both Pakistan and the United States need to prevent terrorism emanating from Afghanistan. To this end, we should cooperate to help in stabilizing Afghanistan by addressing the humanitarian crisis in that country and supporting its economic recovery. Of course, there may be an immediate negative impact in the U.S. due to the chaotic nature of its evacuation from Kabul. The U.S. has withdrawn voluntarily from Afghanistan. Therefore, I don't think that the U.S. withdrawal will erode U.S. credibility globally in the long term."

"As for China, if China offers economic support to Afghanistan, it's natural that the Afghans will accept it. The Taliban have welcomed the prospects of being incorporated in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and establishing close relations with China.

However, the U.S. too can play an important and positive role in Afghanistan by providing humanitarian assistance, contributing to Afghanistan's recovery and reconstruction, and cooperating in containing terrorism from Afghanistan. During the Doha peace process, the U.S. established a working relationship with the Taliban. There was direct cooperation between the U.S. and the Taliban during the evacuation process. I believe that the U.S. can work with a new government in Afghanistan to promote common interests and regional stability".

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 24, 2021 at 9:51am

Opinion: The time for equivocating about a nuclear-armed, Taliban-friendly Pakistan is over
by John Bolton


https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/08/23/john-bolton-tali...


Is President Biden sufficiently resolute to do the necessary? Probably not. In George Packer’s recent biography of diplomat Richard Holbrooke, he quotes from Holbrooke’s notes taken during an Obama administration Situation Room meeting on Afghanistan. “Among his notes were private interjections,” Packer writes. “Vice President Joe Biden said that every one of Pakistan’s interests was also America’s interest: ‘HUH?’”

Comment by Riaz Haq on September 25, 2021 at 4:29pm

#Pakistan is critical to #US #intelligence & national #security because of its proximity to #Afghanistan & connections to the Taliban. Ex diplomats & intelligence officers from both countries say the possibilities for cooperation are severely limited. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/us-pakistan-afghanistan-un_n_614f33d...

Pakistan’s prime minister, in remarks Friday to the U.N. General Assembly, made clear there is a long way to go. Imran Khan tried to portray his country as the victim of American ungratefulness for its assistance in Afghanistan over the years. Instead of a mere “word of appreciation,” Pakistan has received blame, Khan said.

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The Biden administration is looking for new ways to stop terrorist threats in Afghanistan after withdrawing all troops.

Over two decades of war, American officials accused Pakistan of playing a double game by promising to fight terrorism and cooperate with Washington while cultivating the Taliban and other extremist groups that attacked U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Islamabad pointed to what it saw as failed promises of a supportive government in Kabul after the U.S. drove the Taliban from power after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as extremist groups took refuge in eastern Afghanistan and launched deadly attacks throughout Pakistan.

But the U.S. wants Pakistani cooperation in counterterrorism efforts and could seek permission to fly surveillance flights into Afghanistan or other intelligence cooperation. Pakistan wants U.S. military aid and good relations with Washington, even as its leaders openly celebrate the Taliban’s rise to power.

“Over the last 20 years, Pakistan has been vital for various logistics purposes for the U.S. military. What’s really been troubling is that, unfortunately, there hasn’t been a lot of trust,” said U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat who is on the House Intelligence Committee. “I think the question is whether we can get over that history to arrive at a new understanding.”

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