India`s dialogue is with Pak civilian govt: Foreign Secretary

Nirupama Rao advocates the continuance of dialogue despite the revelation of WikiLeaks on the involvement of ISI in anti-India attacks in Afghanistan.

New Delhi: India will continue to have a dialogue with Pakistan`s civilian government and does not plan to establish any direct contact with its military, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has said.

In an interview broadcast on a private news channel, Rao was asked by the host if there was a need for India to try and establish a direct line of contact with Pakistan Army Chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

"My answer to that is that we have dealt and we continue to deal with and we will continue to deal with the civilian democratic government in Pakistan, the elected representatives of the people there, and the civilian officials concerned. That is the interface that we have adopted," she said.

Asked specifically if a line of contact can be opened to the military alongside with that of the Pakistani government, Rao replied: "I am not prepared to talk about that at the moment. But let me say that the interface as it exists is with the civilian government."

The foreign secretary advocated the continuance of dialogue despite the revelation of American website WikiLeaks on the involvement of Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in anti-India attacks in Afghanistan.

"I think the justification for dialogue is by no means diminished despite these revelations. I believe that dialogue is the most effective means to tackle outstanding issues with Pakistan, and the abandonment of dialogue or the interruption of dialogue, by no means serves the interests that we seek to pursue in getting Pakistan to stop its pursuit of terrorism against India," Rao said.

When pointed out that ISI`s activities against Indian assets in Afghanistan was during Kayani`s tenure as head, Rao refused to be drawn in to give an assessment of the Pakistani Army chief.

"It is not just that the WikiLeaks have come up with that revelation. It has been known to us for a long time. And we have said all along that the acts of premeditated violence against our nationals in Afghanistan are completely unacceptable to us," she said.

On Afghanistan

Afghanistan is too independent to allow Pakistan to erode its sovereignty and the gradual progress the war-ravaged country has made, said Rao.

"Afghanistan is a fiercely independent country. And the take away we have had from meetings with the Afghan leadership in the recent past is that they are zealous about guarding that independence and in ensuring that the progress that they have made in Afghanistan over the last nine years is not eroded in any manner."

Rao was answering a question on whether the Pakistani influence will increase in Afghanistan, as US President Barack Obama`s administration sees Islamabad as key to the larger solution.

The Indian foreign secretary stressed that the international community had to stay committed to Afghanistan.

"They are dealing with the war against terror there. That war has to be fought, it has to be won. So, I believe that there is a commitment here that the international community has to reinforce," she said.

Asked how India viewed the possibility of Pakistan-backed Mujahideen leaders like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani being part of the Afghan government with the Karzai administration negotiating with the Taliban, Rao said the Afghan regime had articulated "red lines" at the London conference in January, which they "intend to adhere to and abide by".

"Now the fact is that you have groups within the Afghan Taliban that are obviously close to Pakistan that promote terrorism, that espouse radical ideologies. And I do not believe, given the approach of the Afghan government to adhering by those red lines that this reality or this possible conclusion that you referred to is really going to come about," she said.


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