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US vents fury over composition of Afghan government during talks with Pakistan foreign minister

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Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York on Thursday (Image courtesy: Twitter/@SecBlinken)

The United States is believed to have conveyed its unhappiness to Pakistan over Islamabad's role in the composition of the interim Taliban government in Kabul. The message was delivered loud and clear to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi who met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Thursday night.

This was the first in-person meeting between the two after three telephone phone conversations since Joe Biden took over as the US President in January, earlier this year.  

Washington had in the G20 meeting on Afghanistan the day before listed five key action areas for the regime in Kabul if it is seriously seeking legitimacy and support from the international community.

Blinken had made it clear that the caretaker cabinet in Kabul does not fit the bill when it comes to that. He had reminded everyone that it is overwhelmingly from one ethnic group, exclusively male, and of course includes people who are notorious for attacks on US and coalition forces as well as civilians.

Before starting his meeting with Qureshi at a hotel in New York on Thursday, the US Secretary of State indicated that the future of the bilateral and economic relationship between the two countries could well depend on what happens in Afghanistan in the coming months.  

"A lot to focus on, starting with Afghanistan and the importance of our countries working together and going forward on Afghanistan," said Blinken.

"Appreciate the work that Pakistan has done to facilitate the departure of American citizens who wish to leave as well as others, but a lot to talk about there as well as our own bilateral relationship, including the economic relationship between our countries and working in the region as a whole," he added.

Pakistan's role in bringing the Taliban back to power in Afghanistan has never been a state secret. The presence of ISI chief Faiz Hameed in Kabul before the joint Taliban-Pakistan operation against the Afghan resistance front in Panjshir valley has also left many neighbouring countries, including Tajikistan, fuming.

"You Mr. President will try your influence with the Tajik and we will try our best with the Pashtun or the Taliban," Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had told Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon in Dushanbe last week.

With the US saying that there's "quite a lot of convergence" about what Washington needs to see from the Taliban as nobody, including the Chinese, seem to be satisfied with the present Taliban regime, there are enough warning signs for Islamabad to spot.

Qureshi told Blinken that the same international community, which is holding the Taliban to their commitments, also has the moral obligation to help the Afghan people with the growing humanitarian crisis.

"The world should not repeat the mistake of disengaging with Afghanistan," said the Pak foreign minister.

He also said that Pakistan is committed to "facilitating inclusive political settlement" in Afghanistan, a statement not many would be satisfied with given what has happened in Kabul over the past few weeks.

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