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Wednesday December 08, 2021

US senators want Pak role probed in Taliban win

The US Senate bill aimed at providing strategies for counterterrorism in Afghanistan and sanctioning the Taliban for terrorism and human rights abuses

September 29, 2021

WASHINGTON: A bill was Monday introduced in the US Senate requiring assessments and imposition of sanctions on the Taliban and persons assisting them in Afghanistan.

Titled as the Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act, the bill also seeks to establish a task force that will focus on continued evacuation of American citizens, legal permanent residents and Special Immigrant Visa holders from Afghanistan.

The bill aimed at tackling several issues related to the Afghanistan withdrawal as well as providing strategies for counterterrorism in Afghanistan and sanctioning the Taliban for terrorism and human rights abuses has been introduced by 22 Republican senators.

"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 says while further requiring an 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; (2) an assessment of support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan, for the 2021 offensive of the Taliban that toppled the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, including the provision of sanctuary space, financial support, intelligence support, logistics and medical support, training, equipping, and tactical, operational, or strategic direction; (3) an assessment of support by state and non-state actors, including the Government of Pakistan, for the September 2021 offensive of the Taliban against the Panjshir Valley and the Afghan resistance; and (4) a detailed description of United States diplomatic and military activities undertaken to curtail support for the 2021 offensive of the Taliban that toppled the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan."

Ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Jim Risch, said, "An unknown number of American citizens and Afghan partners remain abandoned in Afghanistan under threat from the Taliban, we face a renewed terror threat against the United States, and the Taliban wrongly seek recognition at the UN, even as they suppress the rights of Afghan women and girls."

Under the terms of the peace agreement signed by the United States and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, on February 29, 2020, the withdrawal of the United States Armed Forces was contingent upon the Taliban upholding its commitment to a reduction in the levels of violence, engaging in substantive talks with the Government of Afghanistan, and adhering to certain counterterrorism guarantees. The Taliban failed to meet their commitments, the bill says.

It also fears that the Taliban's rise to power may result in a safe haven for violent jihadi groups, like al Qaeda and the Afghan affiliate of the ISIS. 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.

The bill also stressed that the US president should not recognize as ambassador of Afghanistan to the United States or accept diplomatic credentials from any individual who is a member 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.

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.