US, India carefully watching Pakistan's actions in Afghanistan: Foreign Secretary Shringla

·4-min read
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla

Washington [US], September 4 (ANI): Pakistan "supported and nurtured" the Taliban, said Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla on Friday (local time), adding that the US and India are carefully watching Islamabad's actions in the war-torn country with a "fine-tooth comb".

"They (US) will obviously see how different players get engaged in the situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan is a neighbour of Afghanistan. They have supported and nurtured the Taliban. There are various elements there that Pakistan supported," the foreign secretary said.

"The UN resolution on [Afghanistan] that we adopted makes mention of the proscribed entities in the UN sanctions list that includes the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Taiba. So we do have concerns about the free ingress that these two terrorist groups have had in Afghanistan, their role and we will watch that carefully. So the role of Pakistan as we see is in that context," the Secretary added.

Shringla, who is in Washington for an official visit, said India is obviously very much engaged with the US and following the situation in Afghanistan.

"We are obviously very much engaged with the US on Afghanistan on the situation there, the role of Pakistan there, and of course looking at how the situation would evolve in that country," India's top official told reporters.

The Foreign Secretary's visit came at a time when the situation in Afghanistan is rapidly evolving. Taliban took over the war-ravaged country on August 15.

Shringla called on Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday to discuss their preliminary outreach towards the Taliban.

When asked about how India is proceeding in its engagement with Afghanistan, Shringla said there was no immediate substantial engagement, instead, called the situation fluid.

Shringla once again emphasized India's "wait and watch" approach towards the Taliban in Kabul.

Recently, India had its first formal and publicly acknowledged contact, Indian Ambassador to Qatar Deepak Mittal met senior Taliban leader Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai on Tuesday and conveyed India's concerns that Afghanistan's soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism.

The MEA said the discussions also focused on the safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan and the travel of Afghan nationals, especially members of minority communities to India.

"Our engagement with them (Taliban) has been limited it's not that we have a robust conversation. But for whatever conversations we've had so far, Taliban seem to indicate that they will be reasonable in the way they handle things," Shringla added.

"I don't see members of the international community being passive over the situation in Afghanistan. We (India) are not there on the ground, have no assets there. It's not like we are not doing anything, we are in touch with every country that has an interest in Afghanistan," Shringla affirmed.

Besides Afghanistan, the talks between Shringla, his team of interlocutors and their US officials, also centred around the QUAD summit.

In the wake of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's decision to step down and setting the stage for a new premier after a one-year tenure marred by an unpopular COVID-19 response and sinking public support.

When asked if the Japanese political development would derail the in-person Quad summit, Shringla said, "if there is a summit, Prime Minister Modi has already said that he would be happy to attend that summit, I think other leaders have also said that they will be ready so it all it's all a question of, you know, the getting the leaders together and going ahead,"

A source familiar with developments told ANI even though the schedule is yet to be finalized and is at a premature stage, the High-level QUAD meeting can be expected on the 23-24 September in Washington DC, which will also include an in-person bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Joe Biden.

Shringla also declared that US climate envoy John F. Kerry is expected to travel to India in the coming days to continue his efforts to carve out climate change as an area of closer collaboration between India and the US.

It would also come weeks ahead of the high-stakes United Nation's Global Climate Summit, which Kerry hopes will help get other countries behind a "decade of action" on climate change.

Shringla also informed journalists that 2 + 2 dialogue between India and the United States would be held in November later this year, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh would be hosted by their American counterparts Secretary of State Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for the first India-US 2+2 meeting under the Biden administration.

"We're looking at the 2 2 which will happen in November. The exact dates are not yet worked out," added Shringla. (ANI)

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