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No military solution possible in Afghanistan: Krishna

Even as a top US commander in Afghanistan has sought more forces, India has said there is no military solution to the conflict in that country and NATO combat operations should give way to a political settlement.

world Updated: Sep 23, 2009 18:56 IST
Arun Kumar

Even as a top US commander in Afghanistan has sought more forces, India has said there is no military solution to the conflict in that country and NATO combat operations should give way to a political settlement.

India, one of the biggest investors in Afghanistan, "doesn't believe that war can solve any problem and that applies to Afghanistan also," External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal in New York Tuesday.

"I think there could be a political settlement. I think we should strive towards that."

"India is an optimistic nation. We believe a solution can be found. If India can work happily with Great Britain after they having ruled us for so long, it only shows that we can play the game. We can be partners in development," he said.

Krishna's remarks came after Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, warned in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly stated that without them, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure".

His assessment was sent to Defence Secretary Robert M. Gates Aug 30 and is now being reviewed by President Barack Obama and his national security team, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the story.

Pentagon too has told its top commanders in Afghanistan to delay submitting a request for as many as 40,000 more troops as the Obama administration reassesses its strategy to fight a revived Taliban insurgency.

"India's role in Afghanistan is to help them to stabilize on their infrastructure development. That's our immediate concern. That is the reason why we were asked to come to Afghanistan. We are building roads, we are building school buildings and we are building transmission lines."

Krishna dismissed suggestions that India's growing involvement in Afghanistan is intended to encircle Pakistan, a fear prevalent in some circles in Pakistan. "I think that is a baseless allegation," he said.

But Gen McChrystal has warned that India's growing influence in Afghanistan could "exacerbate" regional tensions and encourage Pakistani "countermeasures" in Afghanistan or India. But he admitted 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.