India centrally important for US success in Afghan: Holbrooke

Last Updated: Friday, January 22, 2010 - 11:14

Washington: India is centrally important
for America`s success in the Af-Pak region, Richard Holbrooke,
Special US Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, said
on Friday.

"I want to be sure that everyone here recognises how
centrally important Indian will be to this (the US success in
Afghanistan and Pakistan)," he told US lawmakers at a
Congressional hearing on Afghanistan and Pakistan convened by
the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee chaired by
Senator John Kerry, a key aid of President Barack Obama.

Holbrooke was recently in India to have discussions
with the Indian leaders on Af-Pak issue.

"India is not formally part of my mandate, but with
the support of the Indians, I try to go to New Delhi as often
as I can to keep them informed and to discuss the situation
with them," Holbrooke told US lawmakers.

"I don`t think it would be valuable to go into details
in the public forum, but I do want to stress that the Indians
are very, very anxious that we succeed in Afghanistan. They`re
supporting us," he said.

"They are giving Afghanistan a lot of aid,
particularly in the field of agriculture which is also our
primary non-security priority agriculture," he said.

"These have been successful offences. If we were sitting
here a year ago and, in fact, when I first appeared before
this committee early last year, this was our major subject of
concern. Well, they`ve begun to move," Holbrooke noted.

"I know that all of you feel that they ought to do more,
and I understand that. We all hope that they will be able to
find ways to deal with all of the militants in the frontier
areas. But there are two full Pakistani divisions right now
just in Swat, and they have pulled over a hundred thousand
troops off their eastern border in order to deal with this,"
he said.

Noting that Pakistan is facing capacity issues, he said:
"That`s why, in addition to asking for the Kerry-Lugar-Berman
legislation, we have asked for increases in FMF and other
forms of military assistance."

Pakistan is undoubtedly the key to the region because of
its location, because of its peculiar history, and in terms of
its interrelationship with Afghanistan, he argued.

"So while we understand that Pakistan and Afghanistan
affect each other and are closely related, we also need to
deal with Pakistan in and of itself as a critically important
country for all the reasons you know -- nuclear weapons, its
relations with its giant neighbour to the east, its weak
economy which needs tremendous support," he said.

"That is why we`re so hopeful that the ROZ legislation
will pass the Senate - it passed the House in the last session
- because it is both symbolically and substantively
important," he said in reference to a pending legislation in
the Congress which if passed would allow duty free export of
US products from certain parts of Pakistan to the US.

PTI



First Published: Friday, January 22, 2010 - 11:14

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