India on Friday (Saturday in Manila) upbraided Pakistan both in Washington and at the United Nations as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan appealed to the world to work with Afghanistan’s triumphant Taliban.
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 said 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,” Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told reporters after the White House talks.
Khan, addressing the UN General Assembly, said that the 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 incentivizes them, and encourages them to walk this talk, it will be a win-win situation for everyone,” Khan said.
“We must strengthen and stabilize the current government for the sake of the people of Afghanistan.”
Khan spent much of his speech defending the record of Pakistan, which was the main supporter of the Taliban’s 1996-2001 regime that imposed an ultra-austere interpretation of Islam and welcomed al-Qaida, triggering the US invasion after the September 11 attacks.
Khan, a longstanding critic of the 20-year US war ended by President Joe Biden, blamed imprecise US drone strikes for the flareup 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?” Khan said in a speech, prerecorded 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’s powerful intelligence services of maintaining support for the Taliban, leading Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump to slash military aid.
Biden has yet to speak let alone invite Khan, although Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Thursday on the UN sidelines with his Pakistani counterpart and offered thanks for help repatriating US citizens from Afghanistan.
Khan accused a world eager for India’s billion-plus market of giving “complete impunity” to Modi in a speech that was loaded even for Pakistan, which routinely castigates India at the United Nations.
“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,” Khan said.
Khan 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 Kashmir, its only Muslim-majority region, pushed through a citizenship law that critics call discriminatory and witnessed repeated flare-ups of religious violence.
While India often ignores Pakistan’s statements, a young Indian diplomat responded from the General Assembly floor.
Sneha Dubey, a first secretary at India’s UN mission, accused Pakistan of sheltering and glorifying al-Qaida mastermind Osama bin Laden — who was killed by US special forces in 2011 — in the army city of Abbottabad.
“We keep hearing that Pakistan is a victim of terrorism. This is the country which is an arsonist disguising itself as a firefighter,” she said.
“Pakistan nurtures terrorists in their backyard in the hope that they will only harm their neighbors.”
She highlighted violence against minorities in Pakistan as well as its “religious and cultural genocide” in 1971 as Bangladesh won independence.
“Unlike Pakistan, India is a pluralistic democracy with a substantial population of minorities who have gone on to hold highest offices in the country,” Dubey said.
Her reply triggered yet another response as a Pakistani diplomat, Saima Saleem, took issue with Dubey’s contention that Kashmir, which is partially controlled by Islamabad, was an internal issue for India.