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How Kamala Harris exposed Pakistan's poor handling of terrorism during meeting with Narendra Modi

·4 min read

United States vice president Kamala Harris, during her maiden meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 'suo moto' referred to Pakistan's role in terrorism.

In her meeting with Modi at the White House on Thursday she spoke of the terror groups working in the country and asked Islamabad to take action so that it does not impact on America and India's security.

Confirming the same, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said: "When the issue of terrorism came up, the vice president suo motu referred Pakistan's role in that regard (of terrorism)."

"She asked Pakistan to take action so that this will not impact on US security and that of India. She agreed with the prime minister's briefing on the fact of cross border terrorism, and the fact that India has been a victim of terrorism for several decades now and on the need to rein in, and closely monitor Pakistan's support for such terrorist groups," Shringla said.

Terrorism discussed during the meet

On Thursday, US vice president Kamala Harris and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had over an hour-long discussion on Indo-US ties and global issues of common interest, including threats to democracy.

Harris acknowledged the presence of terror groups in Pakistan, said Shringla when asked whether the issue of Pakistan emboldening Taliban came up during the discussion between Prime Minister Modi and the US vice president.

Shringla elaborating on the meet added that Harris asked Pakistan to take action against these groups and also agreed with the prime minister that India had been a victim of terrorism for several decades now.

Pakistan's support to terrorism

India has repeatedly called out its neighbour, Pakistan, for its support to terror groups.

In fact, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar while addressing the United Nations Security Council in August of this year had said that terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed continue to operate with "impunity and encouragement".

"Whether it is in Afghanistan or against India, groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed continue to operate with both impunity and encouragement," Jaishankar had said at a high-level UNSC briefing on 'Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts'.

The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan has only heightened these concerns, owing to the proximity of the Taliban with the Pakistani administration.

Voicing these concerns, Indra Mani Pandey, India's envoy to United Nations in Geneva, had said in August at the United Nations Human Rights Council Meet, "Stability in Afghanistan is linked to the peace and security of the region. We hope that the situation in Afghanistan does not pose a challenge to its neighbours and its territory is not used by terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), to threaten any other country."

It is not just India that has highlighted Pakistan's support to terrorist groups.

Earlier this month, US secretary of state Antony Blinken noted that Pakistan has "harboured" members of the Taliban including the terrorists.

"It is one that is involved hedging its bets constantly about the future of Afghanistan, it's one that's involved harbouring members of the Taliban... It is one that's also involved in different points' cooperation with us on counter-terrorism," Blinken said.

Asked by lawmakers if it is time for Washington to reassess its relationship with Pakistan, Blinken said the administration would soon be doing that.

"This is one of the things we're going to be looking at in the days, and weeks ahead - the role that Pakistan has played over the last 20 years but also the role we would want to see it play in the coming years and what it will take for it to do that," he said.

Pakistan has had deep ties with the Taliban and has been accused of supporting the group overtly and covertly. Those charges have been denied by Islamabad. Pakistan is also considered as one of the two countries, along with Qatar, with the most influence over the Taliban. It is also a place where many senior Taliban leaders were thought to have escaped to after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

US actions against Pakistan

There has been a growing clamour to impose sanctions on Pakistan for its support to the Taliban and other terorist groups.

In a letter to Biden, House Representative Mike Waltz urged the US president to impose sanctions on Islamabad unless they "change course".

"At the least, Pakistan is complicit with Taliban advance and is choosing not to coordinate with the Afghan National Security Forces. At worst, the Pakistani military and intelligence services may be directly aiding the Taliban offensive," Waltz said, urging the Biden administration to cut off all aid to Pakistan.

"Additionally, I ask that your administration also consider sanctioning Pakistan unless they change course and make greater efforts to prevent the Taliban from using their border region to regroup between firefights," he added.

It is left to be seen what action is taken against Pakistan, but one thing is for sure is that Kamala Harris' statement would put it on the backfoot, causing Islamabad embarrassment.

With inputs from agencies

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