| 26 February 2024, Monday |

Blinken says U.S. will assess Pakistan ties over Afghanistan’s future

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that the US will examine its relationship with Pakistan in the coming weeks to determine what role it should play in the future of Afghanistan.

Blinken told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee that Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests, some of which are in conflict with ours,” in the first public hearing on Afghanistan since the collapse of the US-backed Afghan government last month.

“It’s one that’s continually hedging its bets on Afghanistan’s future, one that’s housing Taliban militants… It is also one that is involved in several aspects of counter-terrorism cooperation with us “Blinken remarked.

When asked by senators if it is time for the United States to rethink its relationship with Pakistan, Blinken said the administration will do so shortly.

“One of the things we’ll be looking at in the days and weeks ahead is the role Pakistan has played over the last 20 years, as well as the role we’d want to see it play in the next years and what it would take for it to achieve that,” he said.

The United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan culminated with a hastily organized airlift that left thousands of U.S.-allied Afghans behind and was punctuated by a suicide bombing outside Kabul’s airport that killed 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghans.

The United States and Western countries are in a difficult balancing act in the aftermath of the Taliban’s victory – reluctant to recognize the Islamist group while accepting the reality that they will have to engage with them to prevent a looming humanitarian crisis.

Pakistan has had deep ties with the Taliban and has been accused of supporting the group as it battled the U.S.-backed government in Kabul for 20 years – charges denied by Islamabad.

It is also considered as one of the two countries, along with Qatar, with the most influence over the Taliban, and a place where many senior Taliban leaders were thought to have escaped to after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

  • Reuters