The Afghan conflict has no effect on India: Rajnath

KABUL: (MEP) – Bharatiya Janata Party President Rajnath Singh, while keynoting a Capitol Hill conference on the topic of India, Afghanistan and Regional Security, has said that as long as Pakistan offers safe havens to the Taliban and terrorist groups within its territory, the United States-led war on terrorism would be a failure.

Singh also pilloried attempts in some quarters to contend that the real cause of the Afghan conflict was the rivalry between India and Pakistan.

The BJP leader, who is visiting Washington for meetings with US lawmakers, administration officials, and policy wonks in some of DC’s leading think tanks, said, “The US has made Pakistan a partner in its war on terror in the last 10 years, (but) the results have been a mixed bag.”

He said, “While the Taliban and the Al Qaeda have lost many key leaders and thousands of fighters, they continue to hold on to their strongholds in the South and East of Afghanistan and also inside Pakistani territory.”

“This happened primarily because along the way, sometime in 2003-2004, the US had lost focus due to its campaigns elsewhere and the terror outfits had gained the breathing space to regroup and resurrect,” he added.

The result, Singh said, “was further fleecing of American dollars by Pakistan, further dependence of America on that country and further rise in the activities of terror networks.”

He argued, “Pakistan needs to do a lot to tackle this menace,” and warned, “unless the fundamental problem of safe havens of these groups and their leadership in Pakistan is addressed, the Taliban menace cannot be eradicated.”

Earlier, Singh said the Indian government has “enough evidence to prove that the perpetrators” of the horrific terror attacks on 26/11 in Mumbai in 2008 “found shelter and safe haven in our neighbouring country, Pakistan,” and noted that it was no coincidence that even Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden “was found hiding in Abbottabad in Pakistan.”

The BJP head honcho contended “the extremists thrive less on popular support and more on clandestine support they get from certain political, military and intelligence outfits in pursuit of their stated or unstated strategic and ideological objectives.”

“This is at the root of the growth and survival of terrorist groups in the region,” he said, and bemoaned that “I am pained to state that we the Indians and the Afghans have been exposed to threats from the terrorists who have their safe haven in our shared neighborhood.”

Singh said that while it is Washington’s prerogative “to make its own decisions regarding the final scope and time-table of withdrawal from Afghanistan,” such a decision would have “implications for the region in terms of combat against extremism.”

Thus, he said, it behooves the US that India — the major power in the region – “needs to be properly informed about America’s initiatives in the region besides other countries”.

Singh warned that “the eagerness to engage with elements that want to return Afghanistan to the status of ‘Islamic Emirates’ in the hope that they would deliver, and in the process humiliating and weakening the democratic leadership, doesn’t behoove well for the region.”

He asserted, “If this accommodation with the Taliban is pursued with cooperation of the Pakistani military, as seems to be the case, the situation will become even more fraught, as many would say it is the strategic ambition of the Pakistan Army to control Afghanistan that is at the root of the conflict there.”

Singh also assailed “as regrettable that once again an attempt is being made to make-believe that the real cause of the Afghan conflict is India-Pakistan rivalry there.”

“This is a travesty of facts,” he asserted, and pointed out that “the creation of Taliban, its takeover in Afghanistan, the Taliban-Al-Qaeda links, the presence of Osama bin Laden there, the attack on the Twin Towers — traced to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan — the subsequent US military intervention there, the presence of the Taliban leadership in Pakistan, the killing of NATO soldiers by the Haqqani Group and others and the drone attacks against terrorist targets in Pakistan, none of them have anything to do with India.”

Singh said, “While keeping the overall political and security balances in view, India is willing to provide its share of training and non-lethal support in bolstering the defense capabilities of the Afghan security forces.”

“Mutually beneficial and supportive India-Afghanistan ties do not stand in the way of Afghanistan’s ties with its other neighbors,” he said.

Singh said it was imperative that “India and the US must continue to work together constructively and transparently in ensuring that the end game in Afghanistan is played out smoothly, in Afghanistan’s best interest and without damaging the interests of its neighbors.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.