Pakistani intelligence chief gives 8-hour briefing on Afghanistan | Voice of America


ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – Senior Pakistani military and intelligence officials told members of parliament in a closed-door briefing on Thursday that they were losing influence over the Taliban and building border defenses for fear of an escalation of violence in neighboring Afghanistan once the US withdrawal is over.

Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, Director General of Interservice Intelligence, briefed, with Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on hand to answer questions.

FILE – Pakistani Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa gestures during talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Islamabad, Pakistan, Islamabad, April 7, 2021.

They told the parliamentary committee that Pakistan was trying to persuade the Taliban to negotiate a settlement of the conflict, but the country’s influence was waning, according to a statement from Pakistan’s Ministry of Information and VOA sources during the meeting. meeting.

They also said Pakistan had closed 90% of its border with Afghanistan to protect it from increased violence once US and NATO forces disappear.

Pakistan expects millions of Afghan refugees to arrive at its border if violence in Afghanistan increases or if the situation deteriorates into civil war. The country already hosts nearly 3 million refugees, some of whom have lived here since the 1980s, when the then Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

The decades of conflict that followed, especially the civil war of post-Soviet withdrawal in the 1990s, sent millions of people to seek refuge in neighboring Iran and Pakistan.

Cashmere included in the briefing

While relations with neighboring India, in particular the dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir, were also on the agenda for Thursday’s briefing, most of the time was spent discussing Afghanistan.

The private briefing was requested by senior opposition leaders who wanted the country’s national security establishment to expose the country’s policies on the regional situation to parliament.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told local broadcaster ARY that Thursday’s discussion on Afghanistan was “frank and comprehensive” and that the other issues were to be discussed at an upcoming briefing.

FILE - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a joint press conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (not pictured) at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 19, 2020.
FILE – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 19, 2020.

A day earlier Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan told parliament that the country could be a “partner in peace” with the United States but not partners in the conflict, and reiterated his position that his government would not provide not the US bases for counterterrorism strikes in Afghanistan. .

In his statement announcing the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden said his administration would “reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities and substantial assets in the region to prevent the resurgence of terrorism – of the threat to our homeland on the horizon “.

Since then, US diplomats have been in conversation with several countries in the region, including Pakistan, seeking assistance in the fight against terrorism, including providing bases or facilities that can accommodate drones or other planes to be used in counterterrorism strikes.

United States offers warning

The U.S. intelligence community has warned that after the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, which is expected to be completed by September 11, 2021, the fight against terrorism will become difficult.

“The ability of the US government to collect and respond to threats will diminish. It is simply a fact,” CIA Director Bill Burns told lawmakers in April.

However, he also acknowledged that the capacity of terrorist groups in the region, such as local affiliates of Al-Qaida or the Islamic State, lacked the capacity to attack the United States.

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