India on Thursday told off Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi for questioning India’s “larger than ought" presence in Afghanistan. New Delhi also took a swipe at Pakistan stating that Indian efforts had brought development to Afghanistan while the world was familiar with Pakistan’s contribution to the war torn country.

Talking about India’s diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, Qureshi in an interview to Afghanistan’s Tolo News reiterated a long held Pakistani position that New Delhi had a lot more than four Indian consulates in Afghanistan. The Pakistani foreign minister told the Afghan TV channel that India’s presence in Afghanistan is “larger than it ought to be" and that India is “carrying out terrorist activities" from Afghan soil. When asked how many Indian consulates there are in Afghanistan, he replied: “Well, on paper, perhaps four."

“At times we feel that their presence is perhaps larger than it ought to be because they...don’t share a border with you," he told Tolo News. He also added that it would bother him if India uses “your (Afghan) soil against us." Asked if and how India is using Afghan soil for anti-Pakistan activities, he said: “Yes, they are...By carrying out terrorist activities."

In response, Indian foreign ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said: “We have seen the media reports on this. We firmly believe that it is for the Afghan people to decide their partners, and the size of that partnership."

“India has brought electricity, dams, schools, health clinics, roads and community projects to Afghanistan. The world knows what Pakistan has brought to Afghanistan," he said alluding to what is seen as Pakistan’s support to the rebel Taliban that was now capturing Afghan districts and provinces with the US and other international troops pulling out of the country. India accuses Pakistan of fomenting terrorism not only against it in Kashmir but also against Afghanistan. The Taliban has been accused of using violence to strengthen its claim for a prominent say in Afghanistan’s future as foreign troops withdraw from the country.

When asked if India had been in touch with the Taliban, Bagchi said that India supported “all peace initiatives and has a long term commitment towards development and reconstruction of Afghanistan."

“In this context, we remain in touch with various stakeholders, including regional countries. I would also draw your attention to the recent statement by the External Affairs Minister (S Jaishankar) at the UN Security Council debate, which lays out our concern at the upsurge in violence," he said.

On India-Pakistan bilateral ties, Bagchi said that India desired “normal relations with all our neighbours including Pakistan."

“Pakistan must work towards creating a conducive atmosphere, including by taking credible, verifiable and irreversible action to not allow any territory under its control to be used for cross-border terrorism against India in any manner," he added.