India isn`t a threat to Pak, US tells Islamabad

The US Wednesday reiterated it has clearly told Islamabad that "existential threat to Pakistan is not India; the existential threat to Pakistan involves extremism within its own borders".

Washington: The US Wednesday reiterated it has clearly told Islamabad that "existential threat to Pakistan is not India; the existential threat to Pakistan involves extremism within its own borders".

It also said that Pakistan, India and Iran can play a "constructive role" in a regional solution to Afghanistan.

"We have made no secret of the fact that we`ve told Pakistan clearly that we believe that the existential threat to Pakistan is not India; the existential threat to Pakistan involves extremism within its own borders," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters Wednesday.

On Afghanistan, he said: "We are supporting an Afghan-led process. We recognise that ultimately, the solution in Afghanistan involves effective military action, but also involves political reconciliation."

"But to the extent that the solution to Afghanistan does involve a regional solution, we recognize that Pakistan, India, Iran, other countries have an interest in a stable Afghanistan and can play a constructive role."

Crowley`s comments came as US and Pakistani officials began three days of strategic talks covering a wide range of issues, including defence, economic, agricultural and infrastructure development, as well as building government institutions.

Asked if the reported $2 billion new military assistance package for Pakistan would set off an arms race with India, he said: It`s not about an arms race. We have had discussions with Pakistan to build up their capabilities, but also how to direct those capabilities."

The US, he said, "wants to make sure that Pakistan is playing a constructive role in the region and is establishing an appropriate and constructive relationship with Afghanistan going forward."

"Afghanistan is sovereign. It has a right to chart its own future," Crowley said. "But it will also, we recognise, have relationships with its neighbours, which will include Pakistan, which will include India, which will include Iran, and will include other countries."

"And so we are in dialogue with all of these countries to try to build effective, sustainable relationships across the region."
"We believe that there the potential for cooperation certainly outweighs what might be perceptions s about competition in the region," he said. "We want to see a stable, peaceful region, and a significant part of that involves helping to shape a stable, peaceful Afghanistan."

Crowley noted that Pakistan has made progress with military campaigns in the border regions of Swat and South Waziristan but added the US wants additional focus on North Waziristan.
"Clearly while we`ve seen aggressive action by Pakistan in recent months, more does need to be done," he said. "There are still safe havens within its territory that need to be addressed."

IANS

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