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Taliban takeover could open new chasm in US-Pakistan ties

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WASHINGTON (AFP) — After the September 11 attacks, the United States gave Pakistan a harsh ultimatum to break with the Taliban. Pakistan offered help but insisted that it would not be abandoned again, as in the 1990s, after Washington lost interest in Afghanistan.

Twenty years later, the Taliban has retaken Afghanistan from a US-backed government — and it looks likely that Pakistan will be abandoned again.

“Pakistan is too important to be permanently ignored by the US, but this time Americans will take longer to determine the depth of their relationship with Pakistan,” said Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington.

The two-decade US war in Afghanistan has been accompanied by a turbulent relationship between the United States and Pakistan, whose then-military ruler Pervez Musharraf vowed “unstinting support” after September 11.

Hoping to woo a skeptical Pakistani public, then-senator John Kerry in 2009 spearheaded a civilian aid package of $1.5 billion a year.

But US suspicions that Pakistan’s powerful military and intelligence were playing a double-game came into stark relief when Osama bin Laden, the world’s most wanted man, was found and killed by US commandos inside Pakistan in 2011.

The United States finally cut military aid in 2018, under president Donald Trump.

Haqqani, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, said Pakistan sought credit for bringing the Taliban to the table with the Afghan government as part of the US withdrawal.

But in Washington, “what everyone remembers is what Americans see as Pakistan’s role in allowing the........

© The Times of Israel

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