US State Secretary Antony Blinken said on Monday that the US will examine its ties with Pakistan in the coming weeks to decide what role Pakistan should play in the future of Afghanistan.
Blinken heard from lawmakers from both parties who urged for a tougher stance on Pakistan while testifying before Congress on the Taliban victory in Afghanistan.
Blinken told the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee that Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests, [with] some that are in conflict with ours”.
“It is one that is involved hedging its bets constantly about the future of Afghanistan, it’s one that’s involved harbouring members of the Taliban […] It is one that’s also involved in different points [of] cooperation with us on counterterrorism,” Blinken said.
When asked by lawmakers whether it is time for the United States to rethink its relationship with Pakistan, Blinken indicated the administration will do so shortly.
“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.
Blinken also urged Pakistan to deny the Afghan Taliban legitimacy until they accordance with applicable requests.
“What we have to look at is an insistence that every country, to include Pakistan, make good on the expectations that the international community has of what is required of a Taliban-led government if it’s to receive any legitimacy of any kind or any support,” Blinken said.
He said the Taliban’s top objectives were to ensure that those who wanted to leave Afghanistan were allowed to leave, that women, girls, and minorities were respected, and that the nation did not become “a haven for outward-directed terror” again.
“So Pakistan needs to line up with a broad majority of the international community in working toward those ends and in upholding those expectations,” Blinken said.
One of many legislators to criticise Pakistan, Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro, called on the US to consider revoking Pakistan’s status as a major non-NATO ally, which gives Islamabad preferential access to US weaponry.
The United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan culminated with a hastily organised airlift that left thousands of US-allied Afghans behind and was punctuated by a suicide bombing outside Kabul’s airport that killed 13 US troops and more than 80 Afghans.
The United States and Western countries are in a difficult balancing act in the aftermath of the Taliban’s victory — reluctant to recognise the group while accepting the reality that they will have to engage with them to prevent a looming humanitarian crisis.