Washington: The United States is reviewing its relationship with Pakistan in view of its role in Afghanistan, which, secretary of state Antony Blinken told lawmakers at a hearing, amounted to “hedging its bets”.
Blinken also delivered a very clear message to Pakistan telling it to “line up” with the broad majority of nations to force the Taliban regime to uphold the basic rights of Afghan people, including women and children; allow humanitarian assistance and form a representative government.
Antony Blinken testified on the pullout of American troops from Afghanistan at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
The nearly five-hour session was marked by testy exchanges with Republican lawmakers and occasional rap-on-the-knuckles from Democrats.
Pakistan’s role is coming under increased scrutiny and criticism. Andy Biggs, a Republican member of the House of Representatives and a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, had introduced a bill in the House in January calling for ending Pakistan’s status as an MNNA (Major Non-Nato Ally).
Representative Bill Keating brought up Pakistan first at the hearing. He was troubled by the relationship with Pakistan. Recalling its role in the creation and labeling of the Taliban, he went on to nail Pakistan’s deeply entrenched interest by citing PM Imran Khan’s quote that Afghanistan had broken “the shackles of slavery” when the Taliban took back power.
“We used to always hear diplomatically that we have a complicated relationship with … Pakistan,” Keating said. “I would say it’s often duplicitous.”
Antony Blinken said he agreed with the congressman’s assessment of the role played by Pakistan.
Its role in Afghanistan has also been shaped by its concerns about India in that country, the secretary of state added. He did not elaborate.