‘Misleading, unwarranted’: Pakistan says US-India statement contrary to diplomatic norms

Published June 23, 2023
US President Joe Biden (R) greets India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he arrives at the South Portico of the White House in Washington, DC on June 21, 2023.— AFP
US President Joe Biden (R) greets India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he arrives at the South Portico of the White House in Washington, DC on June 21, 2023.— AFP

The Foreign Office (FO) on Friday termed the joint US-India statement — issued against Pakistan after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met President Joe Biden a day earlier — “misleading and unwarranted”, saying that the “reference is contrary to diplomatic norms and has political overtones”.

Biden laid out a red carpet for Modi, who is on a trip to the US, at the White House on Thursday where the two countries sealed major defence and technology deals as Washington bets big on India as a counterweight to China.

In an apparent bid to use the visit to further India’s agenda against Islamabad, a joint statement issued by the two heads of state late on Thursday called on Pakistan to crack down on extremists that target New Delhi.

The statement called for action against extremist groups based in Pakistan such as the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Responding to media queries regarding the statement today, the FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said: “We consider the Pakistan-specific reference in the ‘Joint Statement from the United States and India’, issued on 22 June 2023, as unwarranted, one-sided, and misleading.

“The reference is contrary to diplomatic norms and has political overtones. We are surprised that it has been added despite Pakistan’s close counterterrorism cooperation with the US.”

She recalled that Pakistan had rendered unmatched sacrifices in the fight against terrorism and in doing so the law enforcement agencies and armed forces had set an example.

“The people of Pakistan are the real heroes in this fight,” the FO spokesperson highlighted, adding that the international community had time and again recognised Pakistan’s efforts and sacrifices in the fight against terrorism.

“It has long concluded that terrorism can be defeated through concerted and cooperative actions.

“Today, we fail to see how the assertions made in the joint statement could strengthen the international resolve to fight terrorism. The statement shows that the cooperative spirit, so vitally needed to defeat the scourge of terrorism, has been sacrificed at the altar of geopolitical considerations,” she said.

Zahra noted, “India, in addition to being a state-sponsor of terrorism, habitually uses terrorism bogey to deflect attention from its brutal repression of Kashmiri people in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, and maltreatment of its minorities.”

“It is thus completely ill-placed to cast any aspersions on Pakistan and its fight against terrorism.

“Ironically, the joint statement fails to address the key sources of tension and instability in the region and to take cognisance of the grave human rights situation in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJK). This is tantamount to abdication of international responsibility,” the spokesperson pointed out.

She added that Pakistan was deeply concerned over “the planned transfer of advanced military technologies to India”, saying that such steps “are accentuating military imbalance in the region and undermining strategic stability”.

They remain unhelpful in achieving the objective of durable peace in South Asia, Zahra said.

“We urge our international partners to take a holistic and objective view of the issues of peace and security in South Asia and refrain from endorsing one-sided positions,” she added.

Biden should consider facts before feting ‘butcher of Gujarat’, says Khawaja Asif

Earlier, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif also took exception to the statement, saying that President Biden should “consider facts the next time he fetes the butcher of Gujarat”.

Asif said it was ironic that the statement was issued during the visit of “someone who was banned entry to the US for overseeing a pogrom of Muslims when he was CM Gujarat.”

“He (Modi) leads yet another campaign of state-sponsored terrorism in [Indian-held] Kashmir, which includes routinely maiming and blinding the local population. Across the rest of the country, Modi’s acolytes lynch Muslims, Christians and other minorities, with impunity.

“Pakistan has lost countless lives and has been continuously at war with terrorism for decades now, owing to failed American interventions in the region,” the defence minister said.

“Perhaps President Biden should consider these facts the next time he fetes the Butcher of Gujarat,” he added.

Separately, while addressing the National Assembly, Asif recalled that the US had distanced itself from Modi after the 2002 riots in Gujarat, which led to the killing of more than 2,000 people, mostly Muslims.

US officials had subsequently refused to meet Modi and in 2005, the country had denied him a visa after human rights groups had accused the Indian PM of not moving to halt the carnage.

Referring to these events, the minister said, “It was acknowledged that terrorist activity happened there [in Gujarat] under Modi’s endorsement.”

He added that the same was currently underway against India’s minorities and in occupied Kashmir.

On the other hand, Asif said, Pakistan had supported the US in two wars in Afghanistan for the last 40 years and was “part of a war that was never ours”.

The minister said Pakistan was still paying the price for becoming part of the US-led war on terror and yet “there is no acknowledgement”, adding that the US-India joint statement was a “basis of dishonour” for the nation.

“We sold our people to them and the result of that is the joint communique by President Biden and the Butcher of Gujarat [in which they have] accused Pakistan of terrorism.”

Asif further stressed that Pakistan should leverage its geographic location for its benefit instead of incurring losses because of it.

Terrorism should not be made victim to geopolitics: FM Bilawal

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari decried that in the past 14 months, the world had moved on from Afghanistan to Ukraine and was not paying attention to terrorism.

“It is very easy to write in a statement to focus on terrorism, but if that attention is not there then the issue would not be solved,” the foreign minister said.

He added that neither the US nor Europe nor the world was focused on the issue of terrorism after the fall of Kabul.

“Their first attention is geopolitics and then other issues. We think terrorism is such an issue that major powers shouldn’t make it controversial or a victim of their geopolitics.

“If we have to correctly combat terrorism, we will do it ourselves in our country and if we have to combat it together in the rest of the world, then we can only do so when our international partners take the issue as seriously and say: ‘Our other issues and conflicts in the world aside, we will not do geopolitics on terrorism and the whole world will combat it as one.’

“Only then will we be able to uproot and eliminate it,” the foreign minister said.

Bilawal pointed out that Pakistan would take action against terrorism due to the aspirations of its people and its national security needs, not because the joint statement mentioned it.

“Why will we not want to eliminate terrorism? … we want to combat terrorism,” he said, adding that the issue was raised, confronted and defeated previously as well.

Bilawal said Pakistan was pushed back and terrorism had again become an issue for the country due to the policies of the ex-prime minister.

“This issue is ours today and God forbid can become some other country’s problem tomorrow.”

He added that the Foreign Office would later issue a detailed response to the joint statement.

Furthermore, FM Bilawal stressed Pakistan needed to stay away from world politics and internally reflect and focus on its own issues and problems.

“It is necessary to correct them first and then we can achieve our international targets.

“I don’t believe there is any reason for Pakistan to be insecure about its relationship with the world or its bilateral partnership with the US as a result of the increasingly close cooperation between India and the US.”

US-India statement against Pakistan

The US-India statement said: “[The two leaders] strongly condemned cross-border terrorism, the use of terrorist proxies and called on Pakistan to take immediate action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for launching terrorist attacks.”

It also called on Pakistan to punish perpetrators of attacks, including the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

A day earlier, the Biden administration had assured Islamabad that Washington still wanted a stable and prosperous Pakistan.

“A stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan, is not just in the interests of the region but it’s in the interests of the United States as well,” said State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel when asked about possible US support for Pakistan’s efforts to revive an International Monetary Fund aid package.

“We engage regularly with Pakistani officials, and you’ve heard me say this before… Our engagement is critical to our ultimate goal, which is a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan,” said Patel when asked about a meeting between the Pakistani finance minister and the US ambassador in Islamabad.

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