Frank McKenzie, the former US Army general and Pentagon’s third-highest ranking official, said Pakistan was assured that the US would eventually withdraw its troops and leave Afghanistan. He said the US also knew that Taliban found a safe haven in Pakistan.
Speaking to NBC News, McKenzie said: “Pakistanis never believed that we would stay, always thought that we would leave. You know that? They were right, we left.”
McKenzie was the 14th commander of the United States Central Command from 2019 to 2022.
McKenzie also highlighted that throughout the two decades of US presence in Afghanistan and four administrations, the US could not solve the issues emanating from Pakistan’s support of the Taliban.
Pakistan has acted as the unofficial mouthpiece of the Taliban in several international forums and has asked the US and other international organisations to extend economic support to the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan.
Taliban continues to break promises it made to the international community during their takeover of Kabul following the withdrawal of the US troops in August last year. It has barred women from entering offices and attending schools, colleges and universities. It continues to govern Afghanistan in accordance with the hardline interpretations of Islamic laws.
McKenzie also said that the US knew that the Taliban always had a haven in Pakistan. Since 2002, the US has given Pakistan over $14 billion in aid to combat terrorism and insurgents in the region, according to Vox. It has in total given $33 billion to help the US combat terrorism in the region.
It is evident that Pakistan misused the funds and instead paved the way for US troop withdrawal by supporting the Taliban on its return to power in 2021. It was US president Donald Trump who in 2018 cut $300 million in military aid to Pakistan after he alleged that Islamabad was misusing funds.
David Sedney, formerly a top Pentagon official, told Vox News that ‘arms, money, fighters, and explosives streamed into Afghanistan from Pakistan, right under the noses of the Pakistani military’.
McKenzie also accepted that Washington engaged in failed nation-building in Afghanistan and said that Afghanistan may have been governable and sustainable ‘from an Afghan model’.
“I knew Afghanistan is governable and sustainable from an Afghan model. We paid little attention to Afghan realities on the ground,” McKenzie said. He said the Afghanistan issue was a bipartisan failure. He said the Taliban diffused American efforts.