The US State Department has declined to support former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s allegation that 10,000 to 15,000 Pakistanis were involved in the Taliban’s attack on Kabul.
Instead, a senior State Department official commended Pakistan and other allies for giving “critical assistance” to the US evacuation of soldiers and civilians from Afghanistan.
When questioned about Mr. Ghani’s allegation, department spokesman Ned Price replied, “I’m just not in a position to comment on that, to confirm those reports,”. The US official did not respond to another query: Whether Washington still considers Mr. Ghani as Afghanistan’s legitimate ruler.
“If we have anything more, we’ll provide it,” said Mr. Price when asked if he would comment on another claim that the Taliban forces now in Kabul include foreign troops.
However, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland, who spoke at the same press conference on Wednesday afternoon, listed Pakistan as one of a dozen countries that helped the US evacuate its citizens.
“We’re enormously grateful to the huge network of countries that have provided critical assistance for our evacuation efforts,” she said while naming Pakistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, and the UAE among the countries that supported the evacuation. She also named America’s key European allies – Britain, France,
Germany, Italy, Spain, and others – “who have helped transit Americans and others to safety.”
“Our close coordination with our allies and partners remains critical both on evacuation and relocation, but also as we begin to scope our ongoing relationship with the Afghan people and with the Taliban,” she said.
The US media released excerpts from President Joe Biden’s July 23 discussion with Mr. Ghani on Wednesday. Mr. Biden encourages his Afghan counterpart, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, to empower his Defence Minister to battle Taliban militants in key population centers during that phone conversation.
Mr. Ghani replies by saying that he is “facing a full-scale invasion” by the Taliban and at least 10-15,000 foreign terrorists, most of whom are Pakistanis.
Asad Majeed Khan, Pakistan’s US Ambassador, responded to such allegations by saying that Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan was being exaggerated.
“Pakistan’s leadership has consistently said that we have no favorites in Afghanistan and would work with any government in Kabul that has the support of the Afghan people,” he said.
“We continued to urge both the Afghan government and the Taliban to show flexibility and engage more meaningfully in order to secure a political settlement and a comprehensive ceasefire,” Mr. Kahn said. “Unfortunately, neither side was in any mood to listen.”