As Pakistan urges world to work with Afghan Taliban, India goes hunting for faults

Published September 25, 2021
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi participates in a 'Quad nations' meeting at the Leaders' Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework hosted by US President Joe Biden in the East Room at the White House in Washington on Sept 24. — Reuters
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi participates in a 'Quad nations' meeting at the Leaders' Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework hosted by US President Joe Biden in the East Room at the White House in Washington on Sept 24. — Reuters

As Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday appealed to global leaders at the United Nations to work with Afghanistan's triumphant Taliban, India attempted to find fault with Pakistan's approach.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised concerns about Pakistan during talks with US President Joe Biden as well as a broader four-way summit with the leaders of Australia and Japan, according to Indian officials, who claimed the others concurred.

“There was a clear sense that a more careful look and a more careful examination and monitoring of Pakistan's role in Afghanistan — Pakistan's role on the issue of terrorism — had to be kept,” India's Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters after the White House talks.

PM Imran, addressing the UN General Assembly, said that the Afghan Taliban have promised to respect human rights and build an inclusive government since taking over last month, despite global disappointment in a caretaker cabinet.

“If the world community incentivises them, and encourages them to walk this talk, it will be a win-win situation for everyone,” he said.

“We must strengthen and stabilise the current government, for the sake of the people of Afghanistan.”

The premier, a longstanding critic of the 20-year US war ended by Biden, blamed imprecise US drone strikes for the flare-up of extremism inside Pakistan and pointed to Islamabad's cooperation with US forces.

“There is a lot of worry in the US about taking care of the interpreters and everyone who helped the US. What about us?” he said in a speech, pre-recorded by video due to Covid-19 precautions.

“At least there should have been a word of appreciation. But rather than appreciation, imagine how we feel when we are blamed for the turn of events in Afghanistan.”

US officials have long accused Islamabad of maintaining support for the Afghan Taliban, leading Biden's predecessor Donald Trump to slash military aid.

Fiery clash

Biden has yet to speak let alone invite PM Imran, although US State Secretary Antony Blinken met on Thursday on the UN sidelines with his Pakistani counterpart and offered thanks for help repatriating US citizens from Afghanistan.

Imran, in his speech, accused a world eager for India's billion-plus market of giving “complete impunity” to Modi.

“The hate-filled Hindutva ideology, propagated by the fascist RSS-BJP regime, has unleashed a reign of fear and violence against India's 200 million-strong Muslim community,” he said.

The prime minister was referring to Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party and the affiliated Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, a century-old Hindu revivalist movement with a paramilitary component.

Under Modi, India has rescinded the statehood of occupied Kashmir, pushed through a citizenship law that critics call discriminatory and witnessed repeated flare-ups of religious violence.

An Indian diplomat responded to PM Imran's speech from the General Assembly floor.

Sneha Dubey levelled allegations of terrorism against Pakistan before claiming: “Unlike Pakistan, India is a pluralistic democracy with a substantial population of minorities who have gone on to hold highest offices in the country.

Her reply triggered yet another response as Pakistani diplomat Saima Saleem took issue with Dubey's contention that occupied Kashmir was an internal issue for India.

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