Twenty two Republican senators have moved a bill in the US Senate that seeks to assess Pakistan's alleged role in Afghanistan before and after the fall of Kabul and in the Taliban offensive in Panjshir Valley.
Senator Jim Risch, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and 21 other Republicans introduced the Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act (ACOCA) in the Senate on Monday to address outstanding issues related to the Biden administration's "rushed and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan."
The proposed legislation calls for a comprehensive report on who supported the Taliban during America's 20 years in Afghanistan, helped the group in capturing Kabul in mid-August and supported their offensive on Panjshir Valley.
The bill requires the State Department to provide quarterly briefing and submit an annual report detailing lessons learned from the task force including lessons related to the evacuation of American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and applicants for the special immigrant visa program, from Afghanistan.
It also asks to submit a report "detailing the manner and extent to which foreign governments and international organizations have pursued diplomatic engagement or economic or security cooperation with the Taliban or members of the Taliban.
It directs that the US should use its influence at the United Nations to object to the issuance of credentials to any member of the delegation of Afghanistan to the United Nations General Assembly who is a member of the Taliban; to ensure that no member of the Taliban may serve in a leadership position in any United Nations body, fund, program, or specialized agency; and to support a resolution on human rights abuses committed by the Taliban at the United Nations Human Rights Council and calling for the immediate deployment of human rights monitors to Afghanistan under the special procedures of the Council.
The bill reads, "Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and not less frequently than annually thereafter, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence, shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on entities providing support to the Taliban."
The bill adds that further assessment of "support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan, for the Taliban between 2001 and 2020, provision of sanctuary space, financial support, intelligence support, logistics and medical support, training, equipping, and tactical, operational, or strategic direction" should be made.
Additionally, it empowers the US President to impose sanctions against any foreign person who has provided support to any terrorist group in Afghanistan, engaged in serious human rights abuses in the war-torn country and played a role in drug trafficking. Thus, the sanctions might extend to Pakistan considering its nefarious role in the Taliban's rise to power. The sanctions will be in the form of blocking transactions in property, denial of entry into the US and revocation of existing visa. Besides this, the bill calls for retaining the current sanctions on the Taliban and persuading allies of the US to promote the use of sanctions.
The aforesaid legislation also argues against recognizing the Ambassador of Afghanistan to the US if he is a member of the Taliban. It also advocates the identification of areas where the US can strengthen diplomatic, economic, and defence cooperation with India to address the economic and security challenges posed by China, Russia, and the Taliban in the region.
Risch was joined by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mitt Romney of Utah, Rob Portman of Ohio, Todd Young of Indiana, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, John Thune of South Dakota, Rick Scott of Florida, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Boozman of Arkansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Roger Marshall of Kansas in introducing the legislation.
'Pakistan being scapegoated'
Reacting to the development, federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari said that Pakistan will once again be made to pay a heavy price for being an ally of the US in the 'War on Terror'.
"Twenty years of presence by economically and militarily powerful US & Nato left behind chaos with no stable governance structures. Pakistan is now being scapegoated for this failure," she said.
"This was never our war. We suffered 80,000 casualties, a decimated economy, over 450 drone attacks by our US 'ally' and the disastrous fallout of these attacks on our tribal areas and people," she said.
She called on the US Senate to do "serious introspection".
"Enough is enough. It is time for those powers that were present in Afghanistan to look to their own failures instead of targeting Pakistan which paid a heavy price [...] for being an ally and suffering constant abuse in a war that wasn't ours," the minister said.