• Wednesday, September 28, 2022

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India’s presence in Afghanistan is larger than it ought to be: Pakistan

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (Photo by SABAH ARAR/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

WITH India stepping up its diplomatic activities in Afghanistan’s peace process as the US prepares for withdrawal of its troops, Pakistan has said “at times” it feels that New Delhi’s presence in the war-torn country “is perhaps larger than it ought to be”.

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s remarks to Afghanistan’s Tolo news channel come days after India’s external affairs minister S Jaishankar met US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar’s capital Doha on Tuesday (15).

“You have every right to have sovereign and bilateral relations with India… They come and carry out development work there, that’s completely fine with us,” Qureshi said in an interview which will be telecast on Saturday (19).

“But at times we feel that their presence is perhaps larger than it ought to be because they… don’t share a border with you,” he said, according to excerpts of the interview.

On whether India’s presence in Afghanistan bothers Pakistan, Qureshi said, “Yes, if they use your (Afghan) soil against us, it bothers me.”

Asked how India is using Afghan soil for the alleged anti-Pakistan activities, he said: “By carrying out terrorist activities.”

He said it would be an “exaggeration” to blame the Taliban for the bloodshed in Afghanistan.

“If you try and create this impression that the violence is high because of the Taliban…, that would be an exaggeration. Aren’t there other elements who are playing the role of a spoiler?”

To a question on the forces responsible for the violence, Qureshi said: “Daesh (the Islamic State) like forces within Afghanistan…who gain from the war economy, who want to perpetuate their power.”

The Taliban and the Afghan government are holding direct talks to end the 19 years of war that has killed tens of thousands of people and ravaged various parts of the country.

India has invested close to $3 billion (£2.1bn) in aid and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.
India on Thursday (17) said its vision for Afghanistan is driven by a pro-development and pro-democracy approach.

Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan said recently that political stability in Afghanistan will be crucial for his country as he feared an escalation of violence or a civil war could result in a refugee crisis on its border with its western neighbour.

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