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India's role in Afghanistan is constructive: US report

world Updated: May 28, 2009 07:26 IST
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Dismissing Islamabad's allegations that India is using its consulates in Afghanistan to recruit anti-Pakistan insurgents and spread its influence in the region, a US report said that New Delhi has played a "constructive role" in the war-torn nation post-Taliban.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS), a research wing of US Congress, in its latest report "Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security and US Policy," has said that despite Pakistan's accusations many US observers believe India's role in Afghanistan is constructive.

Appreciating India's role in development of Afghanistan, the CRS said "India is the fifth largest single country donor to Afghan reconstruction, funding projects worth about $ 1.2 billion.

India, along with the Asian Development Bank, has financed a $ 300 million project to bring electricity from Central Asia to Afghanistan.

It has also renovated well-known Habibia High School in Kabul and committed to a $ 25 million renovation of Darulaman Palace as the permanent house for Afghanistan's Parliament.

India has financed the construction of a road to the Iranian border in remote Nimruz province and was helping the Independent Directorate for Local Governance (IDLG) with its efforts to build local governance organizations.

It is providing 1,000 scholarships every year for Afghans to undergo higher education in India, the CRS, which periodically prepares reports on various issues for the lawmakers at their request, said.

However, Pakistan considers all this an effort by New Delhi to deny it the strategic depth in Afghanistan.

"Pakistan says India is using its Embassy and four consulates in Afghanistan to train and recruit anti-Pakistan insurgents, and is using its reconstruction funds to build influence there. Afghan officials have said they have evidence that, to counter that influence, ISI agents were involved in the last year's suicide bombing of Indian Embassy in Kabul," the report said.

The CRS, in its report said that some people support India's decision to deploy more security forces in Afghanistan to protect its construction workers, diplomats, and installations.

India reportedly had decided in last August to improve security for its officials and workers in Afghanistan, but not to send actual troops there, the report said.

The report further says that US officials in July last had confronted Pakistan with the evidences that ISI was actively helping Afghanistan militants, particularly the Haqqani faction.

About Pakistan's policy in Afghanistan, the CRS said it is heavily coloured by fears of its historic rival, India.

Pakistan viewed Taliban's regime as an edge over India on providing a strategic depth and it apparently remains wary that the current Afghan government may come under the sway of India, the report said.

"Numerous militant groups, such as Laskhar-e-Tayyba (Army of the Righteous) were formed in Pakistan to challenge India's control of part of the disputed territories of Jammu and Kashmir.

"Some observers believe Pakistan wants to retain the ability to stoke these militants against India, even though some of these militants are connected to and may be assisting Islamist groups that are now challenging the stability of Pakistan," it said.