US Senator grills Blinken over blaming Pakistan for Afghan crisis

US Senator grills Blinken over blaming Pakistan for Afghan crisis

US Senator Chris Van Hollen, on Tuesday, said that the Trump administration had made the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan possible and not Pakistan.

Hollen vindicated Pakistan, saying that the country had released three top Taliban commanders on the US government’s request to push the Afghan peace process forward.

It merits a mention that the senator was born in Karachi.

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His statement is a whiff of fresh air as the US lawmakers want to push for a harder stance against Pakistan.

Hollen argued that it was in Pakistan’s national interest to “stop the chaos and civil war” in its neighbourhood.

Some Republican lawmakers, at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blamed the Biden administration for the Taliban’s takeover and the chaos following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan last month.

Both Republicans and Democrats targeted Pakistan for its support to the Afghan Taliban during the 20-year war – saying that the latter played the role of a double-headed snake.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was the main witness.

“Is it not an actuality that the Trump administration urged the Pakistani government to release top three Taliban commanders as part of that process?” Hollen asked.

“This is right,” Blinken replied.

Hollen asked a number of questions from Blinken such as pressuring the then Afghan government to release 5,000 Taliban prisoners who later were the ones who ensured Kabul’s takeover, to which Blinken replied: “That’s correct.”

“And so, we pick a date. We ask the Taliban that you can attack the Afghan forces and then we come up with a solution, now let’s talk over the future of Afghanistan. Tell me wasn’t this set up when you walked in?” the senator asked.  Blinken replied, “That’s essentially, yes”.

“So, the Trump administration set it up perfectly for the Taliban with this negotiation. Giving them a green signal to attack the Afghan forces. No discussions on going forward,” Van Hollen said.

Blinken said: “I believe that’s accurate.”

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