No evidence to suggest India backing Pak rebels: Holbrooke
Pakistan should focus on militancy within its borders instead of worrying about India’s presence in Afghanistan as there is no evidence to suggest that New Delhi is backing the extremists, US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke has said.
“Pakistan does not have to worry about India in Afghanistan. They need to worry about the miscreants in western Pakistan,” Holbrooke said in an interview with ‘Geo News’ channel at the US State Department in Washington.
“Now if the Indians were supporting those miscreants, that would be extraordinarily bad (and) really dangerous. But they’re not. There is no evidence at all that the Indians are supporting the miscreants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or North West Frontier Province or Waziristan. None,” he said.
Holbrooke was responding to a question on Pakistan’s concerns about India’s presence in Afghanistan. He noted that India has been playing a key role in the reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.
“India has given Afghanistan about USD 1 billion in assistance. They’re rebuilding the parliament building, they’ve built a very useful road in the south-western part of the country leading down towards Iran. They’re training agricultural experts, they’re giving scholarships. The Indians have published a pamphlet on what they’re doing. I don’t think that should be cause of concern for Pakistan.”
The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan dismissed a question on Pakistan’s perceived concerns about the activities of Indian consulates in Afghanistan.
Holbrooke also defended his recent observation that India has a “leading role” to play in the region. The remark was widely criticised in Pakistan.
“Of course, I said India has a leading role. It’s the second largest country in the world. It’s one of the most important countries in the world. What India does matters to the world,” he said.
“China is a very important nation too. China and India have common borders with Pakistan. If you are interested in helping Pakistan, you should talk to its neighbours and that includes China, India and Afghanistan. Seems very simple, but we never told India what they should do in Afghanistan.”
Asked about the US administration’s stand on the Kashmir issue, Holbrooke replied he was “not in-charge of US-Indian relations”.
“My job is only Afghanistan and Pakistan. And when I go to India, it’s to consult them and keep them abreast of the situation so that they know we’re not doing anything behind their back that would affect them. But I’m not involved in that (Kashmir) issue.”
Pak both ‘patron and victim’ of terror: Afghanistan
Describing Pakistan as both a “patron and victim” of terrorism, Afghan Ambassador to the US Said T Jawad charged the Pak Army of not willing to take the terrorists head on though it has the capacity to do so.
He said the civilian government is finding itself helpless due to the unwillingness of the Pak Army to fight terrorism.
Jawad said the political and civilian leadership and the two democratically-elected Presidents of have never had such close and trustful relations and extensive bilateral engagement in the history of two countries as they do on Saturday.
“We hope that this will be matched by delivery by Pakistan’s security institution. We see the civilian government committed to fight extremism, but is unable to deliver. The Pakistan Army has the capacity to deliver, but it is not committed to fight terrorism,” Jawad said delivering a speech on Afghanistan at the prestigious South Asian Studies Program of the John Hopkins University.
“Pakistan is both a patron and a victim of the Taliban and terrorism,” he said and added that Afghanistan is concerned about the security situation in Pakistan. We are in favour of cooperating with Pakistan on a trilateral basis, such as the US-Afghan-Pakistan trilateral meetings, NATO, Afghanistan and Pakistan trilateral meetings and the Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan forum to fight extremism and terrorism in the region,” he said.
“We have had more than 26 trilateral meetings with the Pakistan military and intelligence in the past six years, with no results at all,” Jawad said.
“Pakistanis have told me for a long time that India has hundreds of people in its consulate in Kandahar in Afghanistan. I asked Americans and UN people how big the Indian consulate was in Kandahar and they said six or eight people. You know I am not worried about that.”
The Afghan Ambassador praised India’s role in redevelopment in the country. “Afghanistan and India have historically had close friendly relations. We appreciate India’s generous contributions to the reconstruction projects in Afghanistan including road-building, institutional capacity building, training and higher education. Even India is concerned about the prospects of further instability,” he said.
Aware of Pakistan sensitivities and its animosity with India, Jawad hoped the relations between Islamabad and New Delhi would improve.
“We know that Pakistan’s military view on Afghanistan is still in context to their relations with India. We are encouraging our US, NATO and regional friends to work harder to reduce the trust deficit between India and Pakistan. Ambassador Holbrooke can play an important role in this regard,” Jawad said.
Similar policy prescriptions and sentiments (It’s not India, it’s home-grown extremists) were expressed at a Harvard lecture earlier this week by General David Petraeus, chief of the US Central Command with oversight of Pakistan and the middle-east, indicating that US interlocutors are all reading from the same page.
“The existential threat” facing Pakistan “is internal extremists and not India,” Petraeus said in the speech at the Kennedy School of Government, adding such an idea was “intellectually dislocating” for the institutions of Pakistan fostered on decades of projecting confrontation against India.
Over at the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs said the Pakistan crisis was taking a lot of President Obama’s time. Defense Secretary Robert Gates too chipped in, asking Islamabad to recognize the danger and take action.
Source : Agencies, PTI & Indian Express//25th April, 2009