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US withdrawal from Afghan will lead Pak to Taliban: lawmaker

world Updated: Sep 23, 2009 11:12 IST

Cautioning the Obama administration against withdrawing from Afghanistan soon, a powerful US lawmaker has said this would lead to Pakistan again supporting al Qaeda and Taliban as part of its policy to counter the Indian influence in the region.

Amidst report that US is considering withdrawal of its forces from parts of Afghanistan and instead focus more on aerial strikes, Congressman Ike Skelton, who is Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has said such a policy is not only far away from the ground realities of the region but would also be disastrous for the US.

In a five-page letter to US President Barack Obama written on September 22, Skelton said such a strategy would not be successful, in part because of the strategic outlook of Pakistan.

"Pakistan sees India as an existential threat and Afghanistan as important for strategic depth. The Pakistanis fear that, should the Indians gain undue influence in Afghanistan, they could encircle Pakistan," he said.

"Pakistan's main tool to counter this has been the Taliban, and many observers believe that Pakistan retains its ties with the Taliban for this reason," he said.

He said Pakistan's strategic thinking would suggest that if the US were to depart from Afghanistan in the near term, Pakistan would again need to rely on the Taliban to preserve Pakistani interests.