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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

World

US must keep India in picture on Afghan: BJP chief
IANS
Washington, July 24, 2013
First Published: 11:58 IST(24/7/2013)
Last Updated: 12:02 IST(24/7/2013)

Suggesting that in making Pakistan a partner in its war on terror in Afghanistan, the US had lost its focus, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants US to keep India in the picture on any new initiatives in the region.

"The US has made Pakistan a partner in its war on terror in Afghanistan in the last ten years. The results have been a mixed bag," BJP President Rajnath Singh said at a conference on "Security, stability & prosperity of Afghanistan" in Washington on Tuesday.

"While the Taliban and al Qaeda have lost many key leaders and thousands of fighters they continue to hold on to their strongholds in the South and East of Afghanistan and also inside Pakistan territory," he said.

"This happened primarily because along the way sometime in 2003/4 the US had lost focus due to its campaigns elsewhere and the terror outfits had gained the breathing space to regroup and resurrect," Rajnath Singh said.

"The result was further fleecing of American dollars by Pakistan, further dependence of America on that country and further rise in the activities of terror networks," he said.

Asking Pakistan to "act responsibly to ensure a smooth transition in Afghanistan", Rajnath Singh said, "Unless the fundamental problem of safe havens of these groups and their leadership in Pakistan is addressed, the Taliban menace cannot be eradicated."

Expressing BJP's "cautious optimism keeping in view the track record of successive regimes in Pakistan," he said the party expected the new Pakistan leadership to show courage and determination to rein in radical elements within the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence) and the Pakistan Army from interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan after the NATO Forces' withdraw.

"Pakistan must realise that the radical Taliban have caused enormous damage to not only the NATO Forces and the democratic leadership in Afghanistan, but also the Baluchs and many others in Pakistan too," Rajnath Singh said.

He regretted "that once again an attempt is being made to make-believe that the real cause of the Afghan conflict is India-Pakistan rivalry there."

The BJP chief said the US has to make its own decisions regarding the final scope and time-table of withdrawal from Afghanistan, but its decision has implications for the region in terms of the combat against extremism.

"As a major power in the region, India needs to be properly informed about any US initiatives in the region," he said.

Stressing the importance of ensuring that Afghanistan "doesn't relapse into the pre-2001 anarchic mode once the NATO troops withdraw," he said, "It must be ensured that we do not leave behind a 'Black Hole' of global security while leaving that country."

Asserting that mutually beneficial and supportive India-Afghanistan ties do not stand in the way of Afghanistan's ties with its other neighbours, Rajnath Singh said: "We would wish Afghanistan to have close, friendly ties with all its neighbours and exercise full freedom of choice in this regard."

"India and the US must continue to work together constructively and transparently in ensuring that the end game in Afghanistan is played out smoothly, in Afghanistan's best interest and without damaging the interests of its neighbours," he said.

The conference was organised by the Foundation for India and Indian Diaspora Studies in partnership with US India Political Action Committee and American Foreign Policy Council.


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