April 25, 2009 3:27:42 pm
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.
“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.”
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.”
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