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'Pakistan has no objection to India, Afghanistan ties'

Pakistan has conveyed its concerns to the US over India's growing presence in Afghanistan, and made it clear that New Delhi cannot have the same stakes in the war-ravaged country as Islamabad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said.

world Updated: Apr 02, 2010 15:08 IST

Pakistan has conveyed its concerns to the US over India's growing presence in Afghanistan, and made it clear that New Delhi cannot have the same stakes in the war-ravaged country as Islamabad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has said.

Qureshi made the remarks while briefing the Senate or the upper house of parliament on Thursday night on the recent strategic dialogue between the US and Pakistan.

The US has recognised Pakistan's legitimate concerns about its interests in Afghanistan, which need to be addressed, he said.

He said India's relations with Afghanistan are long- standing and both countries have a right to have relations.

"But there is a qualified difference. India cannot match Pakistan in its relations with Afghanistan, because India does not share a border with Afghanistan and its role during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan is clear to everybody," he said.

"The price which Pakistan has paid due to instability in Afghanistan, India did not even suffer a fraction of it," he said.

If India tries to affect Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, it is a cause of concern, Qureshi said.

"We have also conveyed these concerns to the US. Our apprehensions are legitimate and we informed them that these legitimate concerns need to be addressed," he said.

The US has shown seriousness in cooperating with Pakistan and realised that Islamabad's grievances regarding the Indian presence in Afghanistan "should be addressed," he added.

The US also realised that if it did not meet Pakistan's security and economic needs, its own agenda for achieving stability in Afghanistan will be affected, he said.

"They realised for the first time that Pakistan has genuine security needs. Economic development is a must for stability and to fight insurgency," Qureshi said.

Three million Afghan refugees are living in Pakistan and hundreds of thousands of students are studying in the country, he said.

Islamabad's desire to have strategic depth should not be misunderstood for a desire to have a "puppet regime" in Kabul, Qureshi said.

Pakistan only wants a "friendly government" in Afghanistan as political and economic destinies of the two countries are interlinked, he said.

During the strategic dialogue, Pakistan conveyed the challenges it is confronting because of its involvement in the war on terror and the urgent need for aid.