Pakistan denies its US envoy said India should engage with Taliban

Ambassador Asad Khan. (Supplied)
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Updated 19 May 2020

Pakistan denies its US envoy said India should engage with Taliban

  • The Pakistani envoy has not said that they (India and the Taliban) should engage

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan denied on Sunday that its envoy to Washington had said that India should engage with the Taliban, after Reuters quoted Ambassador Asad Khan in a news report.
On Saturday, a Reuters report headline stated: “India should talk to Taliban if Delhi feels it will bolster peace push,” and attributed the statement to the Pakistani ambassador.
“The ambassador did not say what the news headline implies. Pakistan’s views on India’s role are well known,” Pakistan Foreign Office spokeswoman, Aisha Farooqui, told Arab News.
Pakistan and India have been to war three times since they won independence from the British in 1947. Over the years, Pakistan has gained influence over the Taliban.
“The Pakistani envoy has not said that they (India and the Taliban) should engage. Rather, he was saying it is their (India’s) decision,” Farooqui said. “Even the Taliban have expressed their viewpoint on the subject.”
“This is the time to focus on the earliest commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations rather than dwell on any extraneous issue,” she said.

FASTFACT

A Reuters news report attributed the quote to Ambassador Asad Khan on Saturday.

Earlier, in an interview with the Indian newspaper The Hindu, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad had said an India-Taliban engagement would be “appropriate.”
When asked to respond to the statement, Ambassador Khan told Reuters: “It is for India to respond to that suggestion.”
“If India feels that their engagement is going to help the peace process, then we would defer to their judgment. But it’s not for us to sit in judgment on what they should do or they shouldn’t do,” Reuters further quoted the ambassador.
On Sunday, in a separate interview with Azam, an Afghan media outlet, the Taliban lashed out at New Delhi and accused it of playing a “negative role” in Afghanistan.
Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, deputy head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar and head of the negotiating team with the US, was quoted as saying: “If the Indian government wants to take positive steps in the Afghan peace process and in rebuilding a new Afghanistan, we are counting on it.”
He went on to say that for 40 years in Afghanistan, India had “played a negative role and maintained economic, military and political ties with a ‘corrupt’ group instead of the nation.”
Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington, Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhary, told Arab News that New Delhi had no constructive role to play in the Afghanistan peace process.
“India has no political role in Afghanistan. They have played a negative role there to harm Pakistan,” he said. “Americans want to give India some role but it is unlikely that the Taliban will accept it in any capacity.”


Cadets among 22 dead in Ukraine military plane crash

Updated 25 September 2020

Cadets among 22 dead in Ukraine military plane crash

  • The transport plane was carrying a total of 28 passengers when it crashed, including 21 military students and seven crew
  • The town of Chuhuiv, where the crash occurred, is 100 kilometers west of the front line with the pro-Russian separatists

KIEV: At least 22 people including military cadets were killed and two others seriously injured Friday when a Ukranian air force plane crashed near Kharkiv in the east of the country, the interior ministry said.
“Twenty-two people died,” Deputy Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko told AFP, adding that “the search for two other people is continuing.”
The transport plane was carrying a total of 28 passengers when it crashed, including 21 military students and seven crew, he said.
“It’s a shock,” he added. “At the moment it’s impossible to establish the cause” of the crash.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he would travel to the region on Saturday.
“We are urgently creating a commission to investigate all the circumstances and causes of the tragedy,” he wrote on Facebook.
The Antonov-26 transport aircraft crashed at around 8:50 p.m. local time (17:50 GMT), two kilometers (1 mile) from the Chuhuiv military air base, the emergency services said.
The plane caught fire after the crash and was extingushed after one hour.
The town of Chuhuiv is around 30 kilometers southeast of Kharkiv and 100 kilometers west of the front line with the pro-Russian separatists.