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Saturday, April 20, 2024  
09 Shawwal 1445  

Khawaja Asif reacts to Biden, Modi call statement on Pakistan terrorism

They strongly condemned cross-border terrorism
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi onstage after introducing Modi during an official State Arrival Ceremony held at the start of Modi’s visit to the White House in Washington, US on June 22, 2023. Reuters
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi onstage after introducing Modi during an official State Arrival Ceremony held at the start of Modi’s visit to the White House in Washington, US on June 22, 2023. Reuters

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the United States was behind the terrorism that Pakistan inherited and was still grappling with.

Responding to a joint statement by US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, Asif said Modi carried the blood of innocent people of Gujarat and Kashmir on his hands.

“They should have thought before giving this statement,” he added.

He also added that the United States’ strategic states are always commercial and were making such statements due to its internal economic problems. Asif also said that the same US had banned Modi’s entry into its country earlier.

He added that not only was the US responsible for terrorism in the region, but it was also being fostered by India. He added that Pakistani soldiers were still laying down their lives to fight the menace.

US-India statement

US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called on Pakistan to “take immediate action” to ensure that its territory is not used to launch “extremist attacks,” the White House said in a joint statement.

“They strongly condemned cross-border terrorism, the use of terrorist proxies and called on Pakistan to take immediate action to ensure that no territory under its control is used for launching terrorist attacks,” the White House said.

Relations between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan have been fraught for years. Since British colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent ended in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought three wars, two of them over the Muslim-majority Himalayan region of Kashmir, which they both claim in full but rule in part.

India has for years accused Pakistan of helping Islamist militants who have battled Indian security forces in its part of Kashmir since the late 1980s. Pakistan denies the accusation and says it only provides diplomatic and moral support for Kashmiris seeking self-determination.

The special status given to the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked in 2019 when New Delhi split it into two federally controlled territories. Pakistan calls the moves illegal and wants them rolled back.

India’s decision led the two countries to downgrade their diplomatic ties.

“President Biden and Prime Minister Modi reiterated the call for concerted action against all UN-listed terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Lashkar e-Tayyiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), and Hizb-ul-Mujhahideen,” the joint statement said.

Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the militant Lashkar-e-Taiba group, is blamed by India for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed over 160 people over three days, beginning the evening of Nov 26.

“They (Biden and Modi) called for the perpetrators of the 26/11 Mumbai and Pathankot attacks to be brought to justice,” their joint statement said.

In the 2016 attack on India’s Pathankot air base, seven Indian security personnel were killed.

State visit

Modi is being feted with the pomp of a state visit, only the third of Biden’s presidency, in a calculated show of full-throated US support — despite quiet unease over India’s refusal to break with Russia and what rights groups see as growing authoritarianism by the Hindu nationalist leader.

With around 7,000 Indian-Americans gathered on the White House’s South Lawn to cheer him on, Modi, sporting a flowing white kurta with a sky-blue jacket, walked a red carpet to a military salute as Biden welcomed him.

President Joe Biden hailed a new era in the US-India relationship, after rolling out the White House red carpet for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, touting deals on defense and commerce aimed at countering China’s global influence.

The partnership is “stronger, closer and more dynamic than at any time in history,” Biden told reporters at a joint press conference with Modi, and the economic relationship is “booming,” with trade more than doubling over the past decade.

Modi touted “a new chapter” to the countries’ “strategic partnership” after the two leaders emerged from Oval Office talks where the countries’ differences on Russia and human rights were on the table.

Though the countries aren’t formal allies and India has long relished its independence, Washington wants Delhi to be a strategic counterweight to China.

Still, some analysts question India’s willingness to stand up to Beijing over Taiwan and other issues. Washington has also been frustrated by India’s close ties with Russia while Moscow wages war in Ukraine.

Modi is seeking to raise the status that India, the world’s most populous country at 1.4 billion and its fifth-largest economy, has on the world stage as a manufacturing and diplomatic powerhouse in the wake of strained ties with neighboring China.

The press conference itself was a reflection of contrasting political traditions, marking the first time Modi has taken questions in such a format in his nine-year tenure. He took one question apiece from an American and an Indian journalist selected in advance.

Modi’s visit was not without controversy. His planned speech later on Thursday to a joint meeting of Congress, normally an affirmation of a visiting leader from an allied nation, was set to be boycotted by a raft of liberal lawmakers.

As some 7,000 well-wishers gathered for a colorful opening ceremony at the White House, a far smaller group of demonstrators gathered blocks away to protest the Biden administration’s coziness with Modi.

For Biden, the benefits of engaging with the world’s biggest democracy at a moment of increased tensions with rival China have outweighed both the costs and risks.

“The challenges and opportunities facing the world in this century require that India and the United States work and lead together, and we are,” Biden said as he welcomed Modi to the White House.

He promised to discuss human rights, freedom and the rule of law with Modi, and told reporters after their talks that they had a “straight forward” discussion.

Asked by a US reporter about what steps he would take to improve the rights of Muslims and other minorities, Modi said “there’s absolutely no space for discrimination” in India.

A festival-like morning ceremony at the White House featured a cappella group Penn Masala performing renditions of songs by the American group Maroon 5 as well as from movies featuring Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

After Modi addresses Congress, Biden is set to host the Indian leader for a glittering state dinner on Thursday evening.

New US-India deals

Biden administration officials say sweeping agreements to be announced on semiconductors, critical minerals, technology, space cooperation and defence cooperation and sales will ring in a new era in relations between the two countries.

Some are aimed at diversifying supply chains to reduce dependence on China. Others are aimed at cornering the market in advanced technologies that may feature on the battlefields of the future.

The United States has sought to address China’s rising influence in the Indo-Pacific region by bolstering defense ties with countries like India, Japan, Australia, South Korea as well as countries across the Pacific and Southeast Asia.

India’s largest trading partner is the US, but the U.S. has much larger trading relationships with China, the EU, and North American neighbors.

Biden and Modi will sign off on a deal to allow General Electric to produce jet engines in India to power Indian military aircraft, through an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics.

US Navy ships in the region will be able to stop in Indian shipyards for repairs under a maritime agreement, and India will procure US-made armed MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones.

US chipmaker Micron Technology’s plans a $2.7 billion semiconductor testing and packaging unit, to be built in Modi’s home state of Gujarat. The US will also make it easier for skilled Indian workers to get and renew US visas.

India also agreed to join the US-led Artemis Accords on space exploration and to work with NASA on a joint mission to the International Space Station in 2024.

Progressive lawmakers boycott

The flurry of agreements comes as some lawmakers have raised serious concerns about democratic backsliding in India.

Several progressive Democrats - including US Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib - said they would boycott Modi’s address to Congress.

“I encourage my colleagues who stand for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of the press to join me in doing the same,” Ocasio-Cortez said Wednesday on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Republican House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters he was planning a bipartisan congressional delegation to India in October.

Modi has been to the United States five times since becoming prime minister in 2014, but the trip is his first with the full diplomatic status of a state visit. He will address US CEOs at a reception on Friday, as American companies plan new investments in India.

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