India's growing influence in Afghanistan could “exacerbate” regional tensions and encourage Pakistani "countermeasures" in Afghanistan or India, a top US military commander says.
At the same time, General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, has in his report to the Pentagon noted that “Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people”.
“Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant development efforts and financial investment. In addition, the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian,” the general said.
“While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India,” added McChrystal.
India has pledged $1.2 billion for a host of reconstruction projects in Afghanistan ranging from roads and bridges to power transmission lines and grassroots training.
Pakistan has repeatedly objected to India having four consulates in Afghanistan in addition to the embassy in Kabul, saying these are used to spy on Islamabad.
The Pakistani intelligence was blamed for a devastating suicide attack in July 2008 on the Indian embassy in Kabul that killed 58 people including two diplomats and two security personnel from India.
The Indian consulates are in Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Jalalabad.
McChrystal, in the same report, had asked for a troops' surge in Afghanistan, warning the coalition forces were in danger of losing the war within a year unless this was done.
US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has shot this down saying: "I can only tell you there are other assessments from very expert military analysts who have worked in counter insurgencies that are the exact opposite."
Clinton's comments came during an interview to PBS television Monday.