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Pakistan supports inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan – Newspaper

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WASHINGTON: Pakistan has assured the international community that it ‘vigorously’ supports an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan.

In a statement to the US media, Pakistani embassy in Washington said that now was the time to stop laying “the blame for every problem in Afghanistan on Pakistan’s doorstep”.

In statements to the media, and at congressional hearings, US and Afghan officials often hold Pakistan responsible for Taliban takeover of Kabul on Aug 15, days before a complete withdrawal of American and Nato troops from Afghanistan.

Last month, 22 US senators moved a bill in the Senate, seeking to assess Pakistan’s alleged role in Afghanistan before and after the fall of Kabul and in recent Taliban offensive in Panjshir Valley.

In an opinion piece published in The Wall Street Journal this week, a former Afghan ambassador to the United Nations, Javid Ahmad, claimed that on Aug 15 “Pakistan succeeded in enabling the Taliban takeover” and “going forward, Islamabad expects to play the dominant role” in Afghanistan.

Embassy says Islamabad shouldn’t be blamed for every problem in war-torn state

Mr Ahmad urged the Biden administration to “reassess its fundamental relationship” with Pakistan and “deploy an intelligence-led team to engage the Taliban directly.” He also urged Washington to “avoid the temptation of enlisting Pakistan as a counterterrorism partner”.

But the Pakistani statement pointed out that contrary to such claims, “Pakistan vigorously supported (and still supports) an inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan”.

The statement recalled that “on at least two occasions, Pakistan joined China, Russia and the US in categorically opposing any government installed by force in Afghanistan”.

Noting that for 20 years, successive Afghan governments had blamed Pakistan for their own shortcomings, Pakistan pointed out that this approach “betrays the same breathtaking lack of introspection and refusal to accept any responsibility that was the hallmark” of the government that collapsed Aug 15, when former President Ashraf Ghani fled Kabul.

Pakistan recalled that recently former US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad blamed Mr Ghani’s refusal to seriously negotiate a power-sharing agreement with the Taliban for the events that happened on Aug 15 and after.

Mr Ghani believed that the “American talk of withdrawal was a bluff,” the statement added, noting that the violent chaos that marked the end of the Ghani regime “could have been avoided if the former president had not reneged on an agreement for a more orderly transition.”

Those who make such “outlandish claims” about Pakistan’s role in the Taliban military offensive, “do not bother to back them up with any evidence,” said Maliha Shahid, a spokesperson for the Pakistan embassy. “They do not explain why the vaunted Afghan security forces and intelligence services were unable to interdict a supposed ‘deluge of militant fighters’ that entered Afghanistan.”

Pakistan also rejected the suggestion that it was responsible for the rampant corruption within the Afghan state that “led US officials to privately describe the Kabul regime as VICE or a vertically integrated criminal enterprise.”

“Was Pakistan to blame for the stunning collapse of the demoralized and unpaid 300,000-strong Afghan army that had been built with $83 billion in American taxpayer money?” the statement asked.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2021

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