US says India’s security concerns in Afghanistan same as Pakistan’s

Time & Us
Last Updated: September 7, 2017 at 11:49 pm

Washington: The US on Thursday said India has as many legitimate security interests in Afghanistan as Pakistan, days after President Donald Trump announced his South Asia policy that required New Delhi to play a larger role in the war-torn country.

“Just as Pakistan has very real and legitimate security interests in Afghanistan, so does India,” Alicia Wells, the state department’s highest ranking official for South Asia, said at a congressional hearing. She was responding to a question about Pakistan worrying about a larger for India in Afghanistan.

“We would like to see, and appreciate, constructive economic investment in Afghanistan’s stability and institutional stability,” she said, recounting India’s commitment to spend $3 billion in Afghanistan, and highlighted work done, including the construction of its new parliament building.

Wells was testifying before a subcommittee of the House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committee, which is considering the state department’s budgetary proposals for South Asia for 2018.

 Equating India’s security concerns in Afghanistan to that of Pakistan could add to the disquiet already felt in Islamabad over Trump’s new policy of inviting New Delhi to play a larger role in the region.

On the recent Doklam stand-off between India and China, Wells refused to take sides. The US, she said, supports stable and peaceful relations globally, and among all countries, including India and China. The US goal in the “Indo-Pacific region is every nation should be able to work together, to uphold international norms, and to prosper,” she said.

Wells was asked whether India was willing to “stand up to China” and whether there was anything in the budget to enable US to strengthen security ties with India that could be “beneficial in checking China’s unwarranted territorial claims” through the rest of Asia.

In response, she said that while the US generally supports “a prosperous India that plays a leading global role… both China and India are leading powers but our relationship with India stands on its own” because it is based on democratic values, close political and economic relations, and growing military ties.