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U.S. to continue to push Pakistan on supporting diplomatic efforts to ensure peace in Afghanistan: CIA Director Burns

CIA Director William Burns.   | Photo Credit: AP

The U.S. will continue to push Pakistan hard on supporting the diplomatic efforts to ensure peace in Afghanistan as it has an interest over the longer term in avoiding insecurity and instability in the war-torn neighbouring country that can spill over and affect its own interest, CIA Director William Burns has said.

Mr. Burns was responding to a question from Congressman Adam Schiff, who is the Chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee.

“Our withdrawal from Afghanistan, what impact do you think that will have on the Pakistani relationship with the Taliban, the Pakistani intelligence, ISI relationship with the Haqqani network or others? How do you see that changing without a U.S. military presence there?” Mr. Schiff asked during the meeting on Thursday.

“Pakistan today is playing a constructive role in support of the diplomatic efforts, at least that the United States and other countries are making to try to bridge what is, at the moment, a pretty severe gap between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban,” Mr. Burns responded.

The CIA Director told lawmakers that Pakistan has an interest over the longer term in avoiding the kind of insecurity and instability in Afghanistan that can spill over and affect its own interest.

“So, in that sense, it continues to have a stake in – in a form of stability in Afghanistan as well and we’ll continue to push them hard in that direction,” Mr. Burns said.

Briefing members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the worldwide threat assessment of the U.S., Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence said that the fighting in Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria has a direct implication on U.S. forces, while tensions between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan remain a concern for the world.

The iterative violence between Israel and Iran, the activity of foreign powers in Libya and conflicts in other areas, including Africa and the Middle East have the potential to escalate or spread, she said.

Responding to a question from Indian-American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi on Afghanistan, Mr. Burns said that under the agreement that was reached last year with the Taliban, they have an obligation to ensure that neither Al Qaeda in Afghanistan nor ISIS in Afghanistan can pose that kind of threat.

“With regard to ISIS in Afghanistan, the Taliban have long fought them. They’re ideological rivals. And with regard to Al Qaeda, our expectation is they’re going to live up to their obligation and, you know, continue to ensure that Al Qaeda can’t again use Afghanistan as a platform to stage external attacks,” Mr. Burns said.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from Afghanistan by September 11 to end America’s longest war that has cost trillions of dollars and the lives of over 2,400 American soldiers.

During a televised address to the nation, Mr. Biden said that keeping thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country at a cost of billions each year made “little sense” to him and to other leaders and urged countries in the region, especially Pakistan, as well as Russia, China, India and Turkey to “do more” to help ensure peace in Afghanistan.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 2:42:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/us-to-continue-to-push-pakistan-on-supporting-diplomatic-efforts-to-ensure-peace-in-afghanistan-cia-director-burns/article34333361.ece

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