'US withdrawal from Afghanistan could lead to designating Pak as terror sponsor': American scholar
Following the Inited States' decision to drawdown troops from Afghanistan, Washington will soon no longer need Islamabad, which could lead to efforts within US Congress to help designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terror, said US-based scholar Michael Rubin.
In an opinion piece in National Interest, Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said Pakistanis often complain that the US is a fair-weather friend and such criticisms are correct as Islamabad has long been America's second choice.
"The United States embraces Pakistan and demands solidarity when Washington needs Islamabad but turns on a dime to punish Pakistan when the US no longer needs it," he wrote.
US President Joe Biden announced last month the decision to withdraw troops from the country starting on that May 1 deadline, with the aim of completely withdrawing from Afghanistan by September 11, which would mark the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that sparked the war in Afghanistan, the longest conflict in American history.
On Thursday, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the US has begun pulling out its forces from Afghanistan.
"Last week, the Secretary of Defense approved the request from US Central Command for the temporary deployment of additional military assets into the Centcom AOR [area of responsibility] in order to support a safe and deliberate withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan."
Pakistan, which has been accused of harbouring insurgent sanctuaries, is credited with arranging the US-Taliban talks that culminated in the signing of the agreement on February 29, 2020.
Pakistan has lately stepped up diplomatic efforts to help in advancing the stalled intra-Afghan peace dialogue.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the American chief peace negotiator, told lawmakers in Washington on Tuesday that the US administration had urged Pakistani leaders to exercise their "considerable leverage" over the Taliban to reduce violence and support a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
"Pakistan has a special responsibility given its influence over the Taliban, so we appreciate what Pakistan has done so far," Khalilzad told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"But we are not there yet, and of course we look forward to working with them to get to a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government in the coming weeks and months," the US envoy said.
With Biden embracing Trump's policy of unilateral withdrawal, the US will soon no longer need Pakistan, said Rubin.
"Neither the White House nor Congress will be inclined to sweep irritants in bilateral relations--primarily, the sponsorship of terror by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence--under the rug. This could lead rather quickly to efforts within Congress to pressure the State Department to designate Pakistan a state sponsor of terror," he said.
"Diplomats and the State Department's internal Pakistan lobby may dismiss such a notion, but a combination of Pakistani triumphalism amidst the backdrop of US withdrawal and any subsequent Taliban atrocities will ignite public opinion and lead American politicians to take symbolic action. Pakistan should be prepared to join a club putting them alongside Iran, Syria, and North Korea," he added.