New Delhi: India raised its pitch on counter-terrorism measures against Pakistan, and on the role Islamabad played in bringing in the new Taliban regime to Afghanistan, during the bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden Friday, ThePrint has learnt.
Even during his address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Saturday, PM Modi came down on Pakistan without naming it, saying that India’s western neighbour was using terrorism as a “tool”.
A press statement by the Ministry of External Affairs after the Modi-Biden bilateral meeting read: “The leaders exchanged views on regional developments in South Asia, including the situation in Afghanistan, and reiterated their shared commitment to work together to counter global terrorism; and condemned cross-border terrorism.”
A source told ThePrint that “counter-terrorism was a key focus area in the bilateral talks”. “The pernicious role played by Pakistan in Afghanistan, and the need for the international community to be cognisant of this, found resonance with US interlocutors,” the source said.
According to sources, for the bilateral talks between Modi and Biden Friday, India had decided that it would highlight the role Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) played in bringing the Taliban regime to Afghanistan.
Sources said India was also clear that it wanted to discuss its next steps in dealing with the new Taliban interim government in Kabul.
For this, PM Modi also ensured that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval would be present with him in all his meetings during the four-day trip to the US, the first since Biden became US President, that concludes Sunday, said the sources.
Back-channel talks between India and Pakistan, which began in February, came to a halt in June-July as the situation in Afghanistan started to become volatile. The capture of Kabul by the Taliban on 15 August only made the situation worse.
Modi says Pakistan using terrorism as ‘tool’
In his in-person address to the UNGA, PM Modi referred indirectly to Pakistan, saying it is using terrorism as a “tool”.
“Those who are using terrorism as a political tool must know it is as big a danger and threat for them,” he said, adding that threats such as “regressive thinking” and “extremism” are rising in the world today.
He cautioned Pakistan, again without naming it, that it should not use the “vulnerable situation” in Afghanistan, which is now under the control of the Taliban, and take advantage of it to spread terrorism in the neighbourhood and outside.
He added that India will stand beside those who are now suffering the most, such as the Afghan people, women, children and minorities.
The previous day, Pakistani PM Imran Khan had told the UNGA in a virtual address that the “worst and most pervasive form of Islamophobia now rules India”. He also raised the issue of India scrapping Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
“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 had said.
India exercised its right to reply, saying Pakistan has an “established history and policy of harbouring, aiding and actively supporting terrorists”.
“This is a country which has been globally recognised as one openly supporting, training, financing and arming terrorists as a matter of state policy. It holds the ignoble record of hosting the largest number of terrorists proscribed by the UN Security Council,” said Sneha Dubey, India’s First Secretary at the UN.
Dubey added, “We desire normal relations with all our neighbours, including Pakistan. However, it is for Pakistan to work sincerely towards creating a conducive atmosphere, including by taking credible, verifiable and irreversible actions to not allow any territory under its control to be used for cross-border terrorism against India in any manner.”
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)
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