India says Biden agrees on Pakistan concerns in Afghanistan

US President Joe Biden hosts a 'Quad nations' meeting at the Leaders' Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework with India's PM Narendra Modi, Australia's PM Scott Morrison and Japan's PM Yoshihide Suga in Washington September 24, 2021. ― Reuters pic
US President Joe Biden hosts a 'Quad nations' meeting at the Leaders' Summit of the Quadrilateral Framework with India's PM Narendra Modi, Australia's PM Scott Morrison and Japan's PM Yoshihide Suga in Washington September 24, 2021. ― Reuters pic

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WASHINGTON, Sept 25 ― India said yesterday that US President Joe Biden and other leaders agreed to keep a careful eye on Pakistan, adding that its historic rival has been an “instigator” of trouble in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi held his first in-person meeting with Biden and then took part in a broader “Quad” summit with the leaders of Australia and Japan. During the talks, Modi shared concerns about extremist elements in Afghanistan after the Taliban's takeover last month, Indian officials said.

“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.

The Quad will keep track of the “important point which sometimes gets overlooked when you see Pakistan projecting itself as a facilitator whereas it has really been in many senses an instigator of some of the problems in our neighbourhood and beyond,” he said.

India was one of the most enthusiastic backers of the pro-Western government in Afghanistan that collapsed last month as Biden withdrew US troops deployed for 20 years.

Pakistan was the top backer of the 1996-2001 Taliban regime that imposed an ultra-austere interpretation of Islam and welcomed al-Qaeda, triggering the US invasion after the September 11 attacks.

Pakistan quickly backed the United States, its Cold War ally, in the war but US officials have long accused Islamabad's powerful intelligence services of maintaining support for the Taliban ― in part due to Pakistani concerns over Indian influence in Afghanistan.

The United States, however, has publicly welcomed Pakistani efforts including its help bringing the Taliban into ultimately unsuccessful talks with the fallen Afghan government.

On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked Pakistan for helping US citizens leave Afghanistan. His Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi promised to work to “achieve our common objective.”

Modi's Hindu nationalist government has had tense relations with Pakistan, which it accuses of fomenting attacks on Indian soil, although earlier this year he called for cordial relations with his counterpart Imran Khan. ― AFP

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