New Delhi: Afghanistan’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah said on Friday that it was important to address Russia’s “perception” that jihadist group Islamic State (IS) was being nurtured by Kabul and western countries.
Denying any such backing, he expressed concern that differences within the international community could impact counter-terrorism efforts within the country.
“There is a perception, and it is sometimes expressed publicly by our Russian friends, that Daesh is supported by institutions in Afghanistan government in collusion with NATO. This is absolutely not true,” Abdullah said in a speech at the external affairs ministry’s think tank, Indian Council for World Affairs.
He was likely referring to Russian Presidential envoy to Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov’s statement who had claimed that IS were being supplied weapons by helicopters.
“Among the problems that we have, I identified the distrust that we have in connection with these mysterious helicopters transferring ISIL [Daesh] militants, their weapons, ammunition,” Kabulov told Sputnik after his meeting with his US counterpart on Sep 21.
This is not a new complaint by Russia. There is deep suspicion in Moscow that that IS in Afghanistan was being nurtured to keep Russia pre-occupied with a security threat on its doorstep.
In turn, Russia has been publicly accused by US and Afghans of providing material support to Taliban who have been fighting with IS for territory control in Afghanistan.
India’s position aligns with US and Afghanistan on this subject, with New Delhi viewing the Islamic State threat as largely hyped and controlled by Pakistan.
Addressing this divergence in the international community, Abdullah said that this ‘perception’ could harm the fight against terror organisations. “That perception has to be addressed…(Otherwise) that can lead to formation of policies which might not led to the common good of all of us to deal with terror networks,” he said in New Delhi on Friday.
Incidentally, Kabulov was here in Delhi for a day-long visit on Wednesday, during which he met with Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar.
When the Indian foreign ministry spokesperson was asked about Russia’s view about Taliban, he batted it away, noting that this question should be posed to the specific “senior Russian official” and Afghan government “if they agree with this assessment”.
He added that Kabulov had been in India a “few days back”, but gave no more details about the discussions.
Abdullah Abdullah had been in India to speak at the India-Afghanistan Trade and Investment show on Thursday. He was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday, but his arrival was postponed due to the terror attack on Kabul international airport.
He met with the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ramnath Kovind and held detailed discussions with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
During his speech, Abdullah said his country has a “serious challenge” in ties with Pakistan and that terror networks based in that country continue to indulge in activities to destabilise Afghanistan.
He noted Afghanistan supports the US president’s new South Asia policy which also provides for a greater economic role for India, much to the annoyance of next-door neighbour Pakistan.
He added that no nation had a veto over Afghanistan’s relations with another country. “If India had come to Afghanistan to build a clinic or school, and then said that we want you to shut to door to Pakistan, our answer would have been the same,” said Abdullah.
Information rectification statement to correct the record on the comments addressed by Khawaja Asif, the FM of Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/5D9zhC7IZy
— Haneef Atmar (@NSAAtmar) September 29, 2017
MeanwhileAfghan national security advisor Hanif Atmar denied Pakistan foreign minister Khwaja Asif’s claim of being proposed an exchange of Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav for a wanted fugitive for the massacre at Army Public School in Peshawar.
“There was no mention or reference of India or an Indian citizen,” said a press release issued by Atmar’s office on Friday.
Referring to the denial by Atmar, Indian MEA spokesperson said it was “one more addition to the long list of imaginary lies created by Pakistan” .