ISLAMABAD – US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has made it clear that the US administration would not recognise the Taliban government in Afghanistan as they (Taliban) have not fulfilled their promises which they made earlier.
“The US would see the practical steps of the Taliban in the days ahead about protection of human rights, women and minorities rights and freedom of movement”, Wendy Sherman told select journalists at the US embassy here yesterday. “Taliban made a number of commitments but these commitments are yet to be fulfilled,” she remarked.
“My conversation with Pakistani leaders was deep, direct and forthright with Afghanistan on the top of agenda”, Wendy Sherman said. “Taliban also made a commitment that they would not harbour terrorists in Afghanistan, therefore, we would see their actions in the days to come”, Wendy said.
“We will not judge the Taliban on their words, but on their actions. And so far, their actions have fallen far short of those public commitments. My colleagues in the Pakistan government and I discussed the importance of holding the Taliban accountable to the commitments they have made —because it is in all our interests to have a stable and inclusive Afghanistan that does not serve as a safe harbor for terrorists,” she added.
The US deputy secretary of state said although the US military has gone from Afghanistan but US commitments with Afghanistan are still there. “One million Afghan children are at the risk of starvation and another 18 million Afghans need humanitarian assistance urgently and the US has released such assistance.
“The US government already has licenses for humanitarian assistance worth 64 million USD through US agencies for Afghanistan so a humanitarian crisis could be prevented there”, Wendy Sherman said.
She also said that Pakistan and the US ties were historic and both the sides were working to move forward for mutual benefit.
She lauded the humanitarian assistance from Pakistan for Afghanistan and said the US also appreciates Pakistani hospitality for millions of Afghan refugees.
When a journalist asked about a specific agenda she had for Pakistan, Wendy said top of the agenda was Afghanistan, however, bilateral relations between Pakistan and the United States and security cooperation between two countries have been going on for many decades.
“I have talked to Pakistani leaders to hold Taliban accountable for not fulfilling their promises which they made earlier”, Wendy Sherman said.
About the future of Pakistan, she said the US strongly believes that a strong democratic Pakistan is imperative and vital for the region and the US would continue to cooperate for connectivity, climate change and clean energy with Pakistan”, she remarked.
Sherman said she also visited the UNHCR DRIVE Center to meet with refugee families and learn how the Pakistani government and UNHCR work together to register refugees. Pakistan has a long history of generosity toward refugees, and has hosted Afghan refugees for more than four decades.
“The registration process I observed today helps refugees be more self-reliant while in Pakistan, with access to school enrollment, COVID-19 vaccines, SIM cards and bank accounts. Afghanistan was at the top of the agenda in my meetings on this trip, but there are many other issues of mutual interest to the United States and Pakistan, given the importance of our bilateral relationship,” she remarked.
Responding to a question, she said she is visiting Pakistan as follow-up of the meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Secretary of State Blinken. She said there have been a lot of changes in Afghanistan for Pakistan for the region which is why she wanted to discuss the situation in Afghanistan with Pakistani leaders.
“We do not want to see terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for the region and the world we have long history of cooperation with Pakistan in counter terrorism and this cooperation would continue”, Wendy Sherman said.
She said the international community and US desire an inclusive government in Afghanistan and terrorists are not given safe heavens in Afghanistan”, Sherman remarked.
She said while replying to a question about an expected telephone call from the US President, that time does not matter but there would be a phone call to Prime Minister Imran Khan by the US President.
She said the US has noted Pakistan’s concern over the bill in the US Congress but said there are hundreds of bills and amendments in the Congress and “Let’s see how things move forward”.
She said Pakistan and the US were also working closely together to address the COVID-19 pandemic. “The United States has donated nearly 16 million vaccine doses to Pakistan so far this year. And just last week, we announced another 9.6 million doses will be delivered to Pakistan through COVAX in the near future,” she pledged.
She said the US was providing these vaccines free of charge, with no strings attached — because we know that no one is safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe.
“We are also cooperating on climate change and clean energy, and on geo-economics and regional connectivity. The United States believes that a strong, prosperous, democratic Pakistan is vitally important for the region — and, indeed, for the wider world. We have had many years of productive partnership with Pakistan toward that goal, and we look forward to many more to come,” she added.
The US deputy secretary said she was saddened to learn of the deadly earthquake that killed scores of people and injured many more in Balochistan.