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Blaming Pakistan

A bill has been introduced in the US Senate seeking imposition of sanctions on the Afghan Taliban and their supporters that could potentially extend to Pakistan. The United States legislators, frustrated over the debacle in Afghanistan, are once again attempting to scapegoat Pakistan for their failures.

The proposed bill, introduced by Republican senators, seeks to review and suspend assistance and impose sanctions on any foreign government supporting the Taliban. It singles out Pakistan and calls for imposing punitive actions against the Taliban and those supporting them.

This comes just as the top US general conceded in a stark admission that the United States lost the war in Afghanistan after two decades. During a grilling testimony in US Congress, General Mark Milley called the war a ‘strategic failure’ that ended with the Taliban in power. However, Gen Milley also partially blamed the defeat on not taking action against Pakistan as an alleged Taliban sanctuary.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the bill is aimed on build pressure on US President Biden who is facing record low approval for the situation. He said Pakistan is being targeted by hostile forces who want to place the entire burden on them. The US lawmakers are shocked that its technology and resources were in vain and the Afghan army collapsed before the Taliban.

Qureshi has just returned from the United States where he consistently called on engaging with the Taliban regime and providing humanitarian assistance. Prime Minister Imran Khan also presented Pakistan’s viewpoint during his UNGA session, warning that Afghanistan may turn into an economic disaster. The truth remains that Pakistan’s narrative is not being welcomed by foreign leaders who are wary of the Taliban’s promises on human rights.

The United States should investigate the causes of the Taliban victory on how the trillions spent on the conflict were in vain. However, it should realize that scapegoating Pakistan for its follies will further worsen the post-withdrawal scenario. The US thinks that war is over but it should realize the new reality in Afghanistan as the ousted government there was fragile and destined to fall.

Pakistan should reassess the situation and future relations with the United States. It is imperative that government should discuss the matter in parliament and build a consensus on foreign policy issues.  The changing times call for new strategies and Pakistan should protect its interests after its sacrifices in the war on terror are not being acknowledged.