Pakistan harbors Taliban members, says US; to reassess relationship
The United States will be reassessing its relationship with Pakistan in the coming days, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Monday, noting that some of Pakistan's interests "are in conflict with ours." While speaking to the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee—in the first public hearing about Afghanistan since the US troop withdrawal—Blinken said that Pakistan has been harboring members of the Taliban.
Pakistan involved in harboring members of Taliban: Blinken
Talking about Pakistan's role in Afghanistan, Blinken said Pakistan is involved in "harboring members of the Taliban." When lawmakers asked if the administration would reassess its ties with Pakistan, Blinken said it would look at "the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years" to formulate what role Washington would want it to play in the coming years in Afghanistan.
What did Blinken say about Pakistan's multiplicity of interests?
On Pakistan's interests conflicting with America's, Blinken said, "It is one that is involved hedging its bets constantly about the future of Afghanistan...It's one that's involved harboring members of the Taliban...It is one that's also involved in different points cooperation with us on counter-terrorism."
Pakistan has close ties with the Taliban
Blinken's comments came amid reports that Pakistan has played a key role during the formation of the new Taliban government. It is well known that Pakistan has maintained a cordial relationship with the Taliban. Pakistan is one of the three nations that had recognized the 1990s Taliban regime. Reportedly, many senior Taliban leaders had escaped to Pakistan after the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001.
US, Western allies in a difficult balancing act
Since the Taliban's victory in Afghanistan, the US and its Western allies have been adopting balancing diplomacy. While accepting the reality that they have to engage with the group to prevent a humanitarian crisis, they are still reluctant to recognize the new Taliban regime. However, countries such as China, Russia, Turkey are considering this vacuum as an opportunity to expand their geopolitical influence.
US troop withdrawal marred by hasty evacuation, bombings
The Taliban's military victory came after the US decided to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. However, its withdrawal was not as smooth as predicted. After the Taliban seized power on August 15, US troop withdrawal was marred by hasty evacuation efforts that left many US-allied Afghans behind. Separately, a suicide bombing outside Kabul's airport also killed 13 US troops along with dozens of Afghans.