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October 2021
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International News
22 US Senators move bill that wants answers to Pak role in helping Taliban
 
Washington/Islamabad, Twenty-two US senators have moved a bill in the Senate that seeks to assess Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan before and after the fall of Kabul and in the Taliban’s offensive in Panjshir Valley, including in providing sanctuary, financial support, intelligence, logistics, training and tactical backing to the Taliban.

Senator Jim Risch, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and other Republicans introduced the Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act in the Senate on Monday to address outstanding issues related to the Biden administration’s “rushed and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

The proposed legislation says the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on entities providing support to the Taliban: “an assessment of support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan, for the Taliban between 2001 and 2020, including the provision of sanctuary space, financial support, intelligence support, logistics and medical support, training, equipping, and tactical, operational, or strategic direction”.

It also demands an “assessment of support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan, for the 2021 offensive of the Taliban that toppled the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” as well as a report on the support provided by Pakistan for the September 2021 offensive of the Taliban against the Panjshir Valley and the Afghan resistance.

“We continue to see the grave implications of the Biden administration’s haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Senator Risch said in a statement issued by his office.

“We face a renewed terror threat against the United States, and the Taliban wrongly seek recognition at the United Nations, even as they suppress the rights of Afghan women and girls.”

Senator Risch said he was proud to introduce the legislation to address these concerns and rebuild America’s credibility.

“I hope the committee will be able to mark it up soon so that we can quickly help those we left behind and protect America’s national security interests before it’s too late,” he added.

The proposed bill also seeks to impose sanctions on the Taliban and others in Afghanistan for terrorism, drug-trafficking, and human rights abuses, as well as on those providing support to the Taliban, including foreign governments.

It states that the US should not recognise any member of the Taliban as the ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States or as the ambassador of Afghanistan to the United Nations, and places restrictions on non-humanitarian foreign assistance to the war-torn country.

It also calls for a comprehensive review of foreign assistance to entities that support the Taliban.

The bill also seeks to establish a US State Department task force to focus on the evacuation of American citizens, legal permanent residents, and Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) who are still stuck in Afghanistan, as well as impose oversight mechanisms on the processing of SIVs and refugees.

It also calls for strategies for counterterrorism and for the disposition of Taliban-captured US equipment.

Reacting to the development, Pakistan Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said that Pakistan will once again be made to pay a heavy price for being an ally of the US in the 'War on Terror'.

"Twenty years of presence by economically and militarily powerful US & Nato left behind chaos with no stable governance structures. Pakistan is now being scapegoated for this failure," she said.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said on Wednesday the "unwarranted" references to Pakistan in the bill was "inconsistent" with the spirit of cooperation that had existed between the two countries on Afghanistan since 2001.


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NATIONAL NEWS
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