9/11: 20 Years Later
On 11 September 2001, 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked and crashed four passenger jets, destroying the World Trade Centre towers in New York and damaging the Pentagon. The attack killed almost 3,000 people and injured 25,000, prompting the launch of US-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
'Think You Are Right': Blinken Agrees Pakistan Played 'Duplicitous' Role in US' 'War on Terror'
© REUTERS / ANUSHREE FADNAVISAn Afghan national holds a sign during a protest against Pakistan and Taliban near a police station in New Delhi, India, September 14, 2021.
© REUTERS / ANUSHREE FADNAVIS
Pakistan has consistently fended off allegations of supporting the Taliban in the US’ War on Terror, instead portraying itself as a victim for the past two decades. Prime Minister Imran Khan said in an interview in July: “70,000 Pakistanis died in a war we had nothing to do with. We had more than $150 billion loss to our economy."
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday accused Pakistan of "hedging its bets constantly about the future of Afghanistan" by supporting Washington in its counterterror operations in the country, while harbouring terrorists during the 20-year-long ‘War on Terror’.
“I think you’re very right to point at the role that Pakistan has played throughout the past 20 years and even before,” stated Blinken, responding to a question from Democrat lawmaker Bill Keating, who accused Islamabad of being “duplicitous” in its dealings with the US.
“And so, going forward, what we are looking at — what we have to look at — is to insist that every country — including Pakistan — makes good on the expectations that the international community has of what is required of a Taliban-led government, if it has to receive legitimacy of any kind,” Blinken added.
The State Department’s top diplomat reiterated his list of demands for the Taliban-led regime in Afghanistan — ensuring freedom of travel and safe passage for Afghans and foreigners wanting to leave the nation, not allowing Afghanistan to be used as a safe haven for “outward directed terrorism”, forming more inclusive government, to allow humanitarian aid into the country and upholding the rights of women, girls and minorities — as preconditions before the US and its partners would move towards recognising the recently unveiled cabinet in Kabul.
“Pakistan needs to line up with the rest of the — with the broad majority of the — international community in working towards those ends and in upholding those expectations,” Blinken went on to say.
The significant remarks come as Islamabad tries to forge a global consensus on a greater international engagement with the Taliban, in the wake of the new rulers in Kabul announcing their new cabinet last week.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi last week called for “discarding old lenses, developing new insights” and proceeding with a pragmatic approach in dealing with the new developments in Afghanistan.
He said this while participating in a virtual meeting of his counterparts from China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Islamabad has also said that the Taliban must be “incentivised” for coming good on its promises, with Qureshi pointing out that the Islamist group was allowing safe passage for those wanting to leave the nation.
The new Taliban cabinet has attracted criticism globally for having at least six ministers sanctioned by the United Nations for their alleged terrorist ties. Taliban's newly appointed interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani heads the US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) Haqqani Network and has a $10 million bounty on his head.
The Pentagon has said that members of the Haqqani Network remain on its hit list, remarks which drew condemnation from the Taliban, which has accused the US of “violating” the ‘Doha Deal’ of February 2020.
Major western powers, including the US, UK and the European Union (EU), have refused to recognise the new Taliban cabinet, saying that they will judge the new government by its deeds and not words.