New Delhi: India Wednesday raised concerns over the increasing role of the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan along with the active role being played by Pakistan there, during US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s visit to New Delhi.
Discussions were also held about former Pakistan ISI chief Lt Gen. Faiz Hameed’s to Afghanistan.
Sherman, who is on a two-day visit to India, met External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla.
She will be addressing business leaders in Mumbai Thursday, after which she will depart for Pakistan.
Official sources told ThePrint that India has “clearly told them” (US officials) about the Narendra Modi government’s concerns that Afghanistan might soon turn into a hotbed of terror networks once again, and the influential role being played there by the Haqqani Network, in collusion with the ISI.
US-India ‘one mind, one approach’ on Afghan-related issues
The US, meanwhile, said it understands India’s concerns on terrorism emanating from Afghanistan if the Taliban dispensation does not adhere to its commitment and establish an inclusive government.
“We remain engaged with India on Afghanistan. The United States appreciates India’s concerns about the potential of terrorism to spill over to India and South Asia,” Sherman told a select group of journalists in New Delhi.
She said both sides will soon convene a meeting of the Joint Working Group on Counterterrorism Measures that will take place on 26-28 October, as well as a dialogue on homeland security, both of which will be aimed at “cooperation on prevention of terrorism”.
Sherman also said the US and India are of “one mind and one approach” when it comes to issues concerning Afghanistan.
She added that India and the US, along with other “like-minded countries”, are holding weekly conversations on the evacuation of citizens from Afghanistan and how to negotiate with the Taliban on this issue.
“The Taliban must create an inclusive government. They must ensure that Afghanistan will not be a safe haven for terrorists, that Taliban allow safe and orderly travel of people who wish to relocate, that they subscribe to human rights, that this be a functioning government,” she said.
“Taliban must act and not just speak words,” the Deputy Secretary of State said, adding that “it seems their minds change on a daily basis”.
She further said neither India nor the US is in a rush to give the Taliban regime “recognition, let alone giving legitimacy”.
“We have to see actions, not just words,” she said.
Adding that she will soon be in Islamabad, Sherman underlined that “unimpeded access (in Afghanistan) is critical”.
“The Deputy Secretary and Foreign Secretary also reviewed pressing regional and global security issues, including Afghanistan, Iran, Russia, and the People’s Republic of China,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price.
S-400 ‘dangerous’ for security interests
According to sources, India and the US also discussed the issue of New Delhi purchasing the S-400 missile system from Russia.
“We have been quite public about any country that decides to use the S-400. We think that is dangerous and not in anybody’s security interest,” Sherman said, on being asked whether or not the Joe Biden administration is planning a presidential waiver under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
Sherman said both sides enjoy a “strong partnership”, and hence, the US will be “thoughtful about the ways ahead”, and more discussions will be held on this.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to visit the US this month where the issue of S-400 is expected to be discussed.
India signed a $5 billion defence deal with Russia in October 2018 to purchase the system, despite the CAATSA law being enacted a year before. India is expecting the deliveries to be completed by 2025.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)