Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Dobbins: India,Pak ties crucial for Afghanistan

Written by Shubhajit Roy | New Delhi | Posted: June 28, 2013 2:46 am

US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan James Dobbins said on Thursday that any improvement of ties between New Delhi and Islamabad will automatically improve the situation in Afghanistan.

Dobbins’s remarks have created some disquiet in New Delhi as he has once again linked India and Pakistan to the problems of Afghanistan. By hyphenating India and Pakistan to the situation in Afghanistan,the US special envoy has again shown the divide within the US administration,since Secretary of State John Kerry had appreciated India’s “bilateral” assistance programmes with Afghanistan.

Dobbins,who arrived here to brief the Indian government on the proposed talks with Taliban,said,“Any improvement in Indo-Pak ties will almost automatically improve the Afghanistan situation.”

He added that he had gathered an impression during his two meetings with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that “improvement in relationship with India is very high on his (Sharif’s) priority list.”

Earlier this week,Kerry had – after meeting External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid – said,“Both of our countries support a stable,democratic,united,sovereign and prosperous Afghanistan. We are grateful for India’s investment in Afghanistan and support and help. We support India’s bilateral economic assistance programmes with Afghanistan with its private sector investment and its leadership in promoting regional economic integration.”

Dobbins’ comments reflect the thinking of the Barack Obama administration of 2008,when the US was planning to include India as the US special envoy Richard Holbrooke’s remit. This was vigorously opposed by Delhi,and US had then changed its mind.

The US special envoy,who met Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and Special envoy on Afghanistan-Pakistan S K Lambah,also said that there is no prospect of any agreement with Taliban unless they decide on severing ties with all terror groups,including al-Qaeda.

During the dialogue,Kerry had assured India that its concerns over Taliban insurgents gaining legitimacy without severing their terror links will not be “overlooked or undermined” during any talks with the Islamic fundamentalist group.

Maintaining that India has an important influence in Afghanistan,Dobbins said,“it is important that India understand our views and we understand India’s views.”

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