Pakistan PM complains to US about greater role for India in Afghanistan


UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has complained to the United States about the greater role President Donald Trump wants for India in Afghanistan, according to media reports.

Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua said that in a meeting here on Tuesday with Vice President Mike Pence, Abbassi expressed concern over the greater role that Trump advocated for India in his new Afghan policy, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP).

She also also said that Abbasi told him that Pakistan categorically rejected allegations against Islamabad in Trump’s Afghan policy speech last month adding that “scapegoating Pakistan will not help bring stability to Afghanistan,” the news agency reported.

A statement from Abbasi’s office only said that the “Prime Minister shared Pakistan’s concerns and views with regard to the US strategy for South Asia” and Januja’s remarks expanded on that.

In his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday Trump had again reiterated his warning of strong action against countries that support or finance organisations like the Taliban, but did not name Pakistan as he had in his speech last month on Afghanistan.

Significantly, Trump did not meet Abbassi, as he had some other prime ministers like Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, and had delegated it to his Vice President.

The Pence meeting was the first high-level direct contact between the US and Pakistan since Trump’s ground-breaking address to the nation on his Afghan policy on August 21 which was met with strong criticism in Islamabad.

Abbasi’s office statement said the discussions with Pence on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting took place in a “cordial atmosphere”.

In a tweet after their meeting Pence said, “Met w/ Pakistani PM Abbasi at @UN. Reiterated @POTUS’ belief that ‘Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort” in the region.'” (POTUS is the US government acronym for President of the United States.)

In last month’s Afghanistan speech, Trump had asked India “to help us more with Afghanistan” and said a “critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India — the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the US”.

He also had said bluntly, “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.”

Islamabad had “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists, he warned.

APP quoted Pence as telling Abbassi, “We look forward to exploring ways so that we can work even more closely with Pakistan and with your government to advance security throughout the region.”

In response, Abbasi told him, “Pakistan has been a long-standing partner and we intend to continue efforts to eliminate terrorism in the area.”

Abbasi’s office said, “Both sides agreed to work together to carry forward the relationship which has been a historic partnership for the last seven decades.

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