US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (R) meets with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (L) on September 23, 2021, on the sidelines of the 76th UN General Assembly in New York. Photograph:( AFP )
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had his first in-person meeting with US secretary of state Anthony Blinken in New York, just hours apart from a meeting held between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US Vice President Kamala Harris. During their meeting, Harris took note of Pakistan's role in cross-border terrorism, while Blinken 'appreciated' Islamabad for its assistance in the Afghanistan crisis.
Just as US Vice President Kamala Harris referred to Pakistan's role in cross-border terrorism during her meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Washington DC, her top diplomat was hosting Pakistani foreign minister in New York and "appreciating" Islamabad for its assistance in Afghanistan.
Observers expressed doubts about the sincerity of Washington's approach towards Pakistan, wondering if America is changing tone depending on the audience, when formulating its approach towards its now-estranged ally in South Asia. US President Joe Biden, significantly, is yet to call Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.
While Harris brought up the issue of cross-border terrorism on her own during her meeting with Modi, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken held his first in-person talks with Pakistani foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
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The two "discussed the way forward in Afghanistan," said a state department readout.
"Secretary Blinken reiterated the importance of coordinating our diplomatic engagement and facilitating the departure of those wishing to leave Afghanistan. The secretary noted that the United States appreciates Pakistan’s support and assistance with both of these efforts," it added.
In his remarks, Blinken said: "I’m very pleased to be meeting with my friend and counterpart from Pakistan, Foreign Minister Qureshi.
"Appreciate the work that Pakistan has done to facilitate the departure of American citizens who wish to leave as well as others, but a lot to talk about there as well as our own bilateral relationship, including the economic relationship between our countries and working in the region as a whole."
Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, briefing reporters after the Modi-Harris meeting, said: “When the issue of terrorism came up, the vice president suo moto referred to Pakistan's role in that regard.”
Harris agreed that India had been a victim of terrorism for several decades, Shringla said, and there was "a need to rein in, and closely monitor, Pakistan's support for such terrorist groups".
“She asked Pakistan to take action so that this will not impact 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.”
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For his part, Qureshi, during his talks with Blinken, raked up the Kashmir issue and sought legitimisation of the Taliban government in Kabul, warning the US against disengaging with Afghanistan.
Saying that a "new political reality" had emerged in Afghanistan, he pointed out: “While the Taliban should be held to their commitments, the international community has a moral obligation to help the Afghan people deal with the growing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.”
Shared w/ @SecBlinken importance of int’l community holding Taliban to their commitments; also for the same community to recognise moral obligation to help the Afghan people with growing humanitarian crisis. The world should not repeat the mistake of disengaging with #Afghanistan https://t.co/a8jEmzzmk7— Shah Mahmood Qureshi (@SMQureshiPTI) September 23, 2021
“The world should not repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan consistently. There is no military solution and Pakistan is committed to facilitating inclusive political settlement,” he wrote later on Twitter.