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World

U.S. can play a "critical role" in India-Pakistan dispute, says Ambassador Asad Khan

  • It is time that the international community understood not only India's destabilizing activities in the broader region but also their authoritarian tendencies at home under the current Hindu nationalist government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
    • Ambassador Khan reiterated that over the past decade, Pakistan has managed to substantially reduce the number of terrorist attacks (by "non-state actors) in the country.
Published December 19, 2020
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In an interview to the Christian Science Monitor, Asad Khan, Pakistan's Ambassador to Washington, mentioned that "a certain narrative has been built around Indian victimhood – how India has suffered at the hand of terrorists – and much of that blame has been thrown at us", stating that it is time that the international community understood not only India's destabilizing activities in the broader region but also their authoritarian tendencies at home under the current Hindu nationalist government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Ambassador Khan reiterated that over the past decade, Pakistan has managed to substantially reduce the number of terrorist attacks (by "non-state actors) in the country, but over the past two years there has been a resurgence of attacks, and “unfortunately we see the Indian footprint and Indian fingerprints all over the place".

Earlier this month, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the Chief of the Military's public relations bureau (ISPR) presented a detailed dossier of alleged Indian-sponsored terrorist activities on Pakistani soil - which included audio wiretaps, named Indian agents, and documented financial transfers.

This raised questions pertaining to the timing of these seriously consequential allegations, considering that India has for years accused Pakistan of harboring terrorist groups and conducting coordinated attacks inside the country - all but tarnishing Pakistan's reputation in the international community.

It is important to understand that the dossier was also shared with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as India prepares to take a two-year rotating seat on the Security Council in January, and with President-elect Joe Biden's incoming administration; in an effort to preemptively label India as an unreliable democratic partner.

It can be observed that over the past decade, India has significantly fortified its international profile, serving as a crucial regional security partner to the United States, and as a strategic and economic counterweight to the growing dominance of Communist China.

On the other hand, as the United States abruptly reduces its presence in Afghanistan, Pakistan's regional strategic importance beyond the implementation of a peace deal between the Taliban and the Afghan government can be seen to dwindle in the foreseeable future.

According to Karl Inderfurth, Assistant Secretary of State on South Asian affairs for the Clinton Administration, "It is no surprise Pakistan would be coming out with such a dossier, especially as India is about to take a seat again on the Security Council", adding that "Pakistan has watched from the sidelines as India has only grown in regional importance, so I see them acting to remind the powers on the council that one of their partners has a history of stirring up trouble in the region".

In the aftermath of the dossier, India has dismissed Pakistan's claims, as India's permanent representative to the United Nations T.S. Trimurti stated that it "enjoys no credibility" and that Pakistan "cannot change the fact that they are the epicenter of terrorism".

China is certainly a key player in this regional calculus, which has a growing economic and security footprint in Pakistan and has engaged in a protracted border dispute with India over the past year; as Pakistani officials have accused India of attempting to destabilize economic cooperation with China by fomenting terrorist attacks against Chinese-financed development projects in the country.

However, Islamabad aims to gain traction in Washington, with Ambassador Khan stating that “We see the U.S. as perhaps the only country in the world that is in a position to play an important and critical role on this issue", adding that "We are hopeful the engagement of the U.S. could work to support peace and security for our region".

In particular, Pakistan would like to see the United States pressure India over its abrogation of the constitutionally enshrined rights of Kashmir as an autonomous territory, and the repressive measures Prime Minister Narendra Modi continues to enforce there.

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