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Pakistan’s concerns on India’s role in Afghanistan are “overestimated”, a top Obama Administration official said today and warned that the country will not have a “bright future” unless it takes action against terror groups like Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network.
“India has been a supportive partner for Afghanistan. It has provided a limited amount but important military assistance (to Afghanistan),” the Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson, told a Washington audience at the Atlantic Council, a top American think-tank.
“I sometime feel that the degree of Indian influence on Afghanistan may be overestimated in Pakistan,” Olson said when asked about apprehensions about Indian influence in Afghanistan.
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Olson who before taking up this assignment was the US Ambassador to Pakistan referred to the quite often heard Pakistani narrative that there are 24 Indian consulates in Afghanistan.
The fact is, he said, there are “four Indian consulates in Afghanistan” as against the Pakistani narrative.
Noting that Pakistan has its own security concerns, Olson said that the United States believes that “Pakistan will not be secure, until and unless” it takes actions against terrorist organisations, in particular the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network that take terrorist actions against its neighbours.
Praising Pakistan for launching its anti-terror campaigns in Waziristan, Olson said Pakistan is now experiencing lower level of violence and its economy has stabilised.
However, the challenge for Pakistan has been its reluctance to take strong actions against terrorist networks that go after its neighbours.
“Pakistan will not have a bright future until and unless it goes after the Taliban,” Olson said, adding that in that sense it needs consolidation of its anti-terrorist actions against these groups.
Taliban, he said, has consolidated itself under the new leadership.
There clearly is a role for other countries in the region, but for the moment the challenge is to keep the negotiations going.
Responding to a question, Olson said Pakistan remains committed to the peace process and this needs to be encouraged.
He also urged Pakistan to use its relationship to bring the Taliban to the peace table.