US Defence chief Mattis to talk terrorism, TTP links on India tour | World

US defence minister James Mattis delivers a speech during a press conference at the Nato Defense Council meeting at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels, June 29, 2017. AFP/John Thys/Files

NEW DELHI: US Defence Secretary James Mattis during his visit to capital city Delhi this week is slated to hold talks pertaining to India’s collaboration with Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and demand it put an end to the alliance, Geo News reported.

Mattis’ visit will be the first one by a top state official since US President Donald Trump assumed office in January, earlier this year.

The matter of Indo-TTP relationship was brought to light by an Indian media outlet, which said the American federal defence chief will be discussing with top state officials the issue of terrorism in South Asia, the trilateral strategic relationship between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, as well as the aforementioned banned outfit during his trip.

However, the publication acknowledged that it will be challenging for Pakistan’s eastside neighbour to accept Mattis’ demand to sever ties of cooperation with TTP since India’s linkage with the banned terrorist group is a vital element against Pakistan with regard to the protracted tensions in Jammu & Kashmir.

“Severing relations with TTP will mean India surrendering an active card in Pakistan and a role in Afghanistan as TTP additionally provides access to certain Afghan Taliban factions. This […] ensures that no solution for peace in Afghanistan can be cobbled together without India’s help,” Bharat Karnad — an author and blogger and a national security expert — wrote in the Hindustan Times.

The former head of the US Central Command “appreciates Pakistan’s indispensability as a base for military operations to bring the Taliban in Afghanistan to their knees”, the report continued.

India is the ‘world’s largest hypocrisy’

Maleeha Lodhi — Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN — during her address to the General Assembly (UNGA) early Sunday morning had said India is the “mother of terrorism in South Asia”.

Voicing her rebuttal to Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s comment that Pakistan is a “pre-eminent export factory for terror”, Lodhi claimed that India’s posture is that of a predator.

Alleging that Swaraj slandered against Pakistan in her comments earlier in the day, she said that Pakistan desires to resolve problems through constructive talks, which are conditional to India doing away with its policy of terrorism.

Lodhi also emphasised that India — a nation ruled by fascist ideology — should stop supporting and aiding terrorism and related activities across the border.

India has fought wars with or in all of its neighbouring countries, she said, slamming the ‘largest democracy’ as “the world’s largest hypocrisy”.

“Indian leaders have Muslim blood on their hands,” Lodhi added.

Pakistan calls for an inquiry into the war crimes perpetrated by India in Occupied Kashmir (IoK), the Pakistani UN representative stated, noting that forceful occupation of the troubled, conflict-ridden region is illegal.

“Kashmir is not part of India,” Lodhi stressed, adding that the global community needs to collectively make India stop violating the ceasefire arrangement between the two countries.

‘Valued and influential partner’

Fighter jets, drone deals, and shared concerns over Afghanistan’s security challenges look set to dominate the agenda of Mattis’ visit to India.

The US defence minister will be arriving in Delhi late Monday and is expected to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nirmala Sitharaman — the new defence minister.

“The United States views India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia,” a Pentagon statement said.

Trump and Modi had met in Washington in June and Mattis’ visit is a sign “the political leadership in both countries place defence cooperation as a top priority”, Mukesh Aghi — the president of the US India Strategic Partnership Forum — told AFP.

Delhi and Washington share concerns about Afghanistan, and last month, Trump announced a new strategy for the war-torn country, which cleared the way for the deployment of thousands more US troops there.

The billionaire businessman-turned-president has urged India to boost assistance to Afghanistan’s economy and lambasted Delhi’s arch-rival Pakistan for offering safe haven to “agents of chaos”.

Mattis “will express US appreciation for India’s important contributions toward Afghanistan’s democracy, stability, prosperity, and security”, the Pentagon said.

India has long vied with Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan, building dams, roads and a new parliament in the troubled country.

Last year, it offered some $1 billion in aid.

Delhi frequently accuses Islamabad of stirring up violence in Afghanistan and harbouring militant groups.

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