Discussed with Pak leadership importance of holding Taliban accountable to their commitments: Sherman
Islamabad, Oct 08: US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman on Friday said she discussed with the Pakistani leadership the importance of holding the Taliban accountable to the commitments they have made because it is in the interests of all to have a "stable and inclusive" Afghanistan that does not serve as a "safe harbour" for terrorists.
On her first visit to Islamabad as a member of the Biden administration, Sherman said Afghanistan was at the top of her agenda during her meetings and underlined the need for a "strong prosperous democratic Pakistan."
She met Pakistani National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf on Thursday after her arrival from New Delhi and held a meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Friday.
She also met Pakistan Army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, considered the main architect of Pakistan''s Afghan strategy.
"I''m glad to be back in Pakistan for my first visit since being sworn in as Deputy Secretary of State. The United States and Pakistan have a long-standing bilateral relationship," Sherman said in a brief video message posted on Twitter by the US embassy in Islamabad.
"We discussed the importance of holding the Taliban accountable to the commitments they have made because it is in all our interests to have a stable and inclusive Afghanistan that does not serve as a safe harbour for terrorists," she said.
The US has made it clear that it is closely monitoring whether the Taliban will uphold their promises of tolerance and govern Afghanistan through an inclusive political system where all ethnic minnorities are represented while also ensuring protection of women''s rights.
Pakistan has said that it is not in a rush to recognise the new Taliban government, but it has been urging the US and other countries to engage with the new rulers in Kabul rather than abandoning the strife-torn country.
Afghanistan, which is now under Taliban rule since August 15 when the Afghan militant group ousted the elected government of President Ashraf Ghani and forced him to flee the country and take refuge in the UAE.
In her message, she said the United States applauds Pakistan''s 42-year history of hospitality in welcoming Afghan refugees fleeing violence and persecution.
"We will continue working together to support human dignity and human rights, including the rights of women, children and minorities for the Afghan people, and for people everywhere," she said.
"Afghanistan was at the top of our agenda, but we also discussed our cooperation in other areas, including the climate crisis, geo-economics and regional connectivity, and ending the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.
She said that the US has donated nearly 16 million vaccine doses to Pakistan so far this year, and another 9.6 million are on the way.
"We''re providing these vaccines with no strings attached because it''s simply the right thing to do to protect the people of Pakistan from this terrible disease," she said.
"The United States believes that a strong prosperous democratic Pakistan is vitally important for the region and indeed for the wider world. We have had many years of productive partnership with Pakistan toward that goal, and we look forward to many more to come," Sherman added.
Her remarks on the importance of democracy in Pakistan assumes significance as the powerful Pakistan Army through coups has ruled the country for more than half of its 73 plus years of existence and has wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.
The Taliban swept across Afghanistan last month, seizing control of all key towns and cities following the withdrawal of the US forces that began on May 1. On August 15, the capital city of Kabul fell to the insurgents.
The Taliban have put in place a hardline interim Cabinet that has no women and includes UN-designated terrorists. The Taliban last ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.
Last month, a group of 22 Republican senators introduced legislation to impose sanctions on the Taliban and on all foreign governments that support the hardline Islamic group. The bill also seeks official input from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about his assessment of the role Pakistan played in supporting the Taliban's return to power in Kabul.