`Pak resistant to India`s friendly overtures`
Last Updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 18:44
Washington: "One Indian would be too much in Afghanistan" for Pakistan, according to former US National Security Advisor James Jones, who says Islamabad has been extremely reluctant to positively respond to India's friendly gestures despite New Delhi doing "quite a bit" to relieve its fears of an Indian attack.

Observing that Pakistan may be making too much noise of a "modest" Indian presence in Afghanistan, former National Security Advisor James Jones said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been "visionary" in taking political risks to defuse tense situations and Pakistanis need to "seize this moment".

"I think India has done quite a bit to relieve the fear that there might be an Indian attack. I think Prime Minister Singh has been visionary and taken political risk in India to do this.

"We've had some benefits in the sense that Pakistan has been able to take some of its forces off the Indian border and bring it over to the west," General (rtd) Jones told US Senators at a Congressional hearing on Pakistan.

However, Jones who was Obama's National Security Advisor for nearly two years, pointed out that even a small Indian presence in Afghanistan was enough to irk Pakistan.

"If the Pakistanis can seize this moment and we can pivot in a new direction with more clarity, more precision and more accountability, then something good might come of this. But it's going to be difficult," he said.

Jones said it will take "political courage and military support of that political courage" to recognise that there is a better way with regard to India.

"But so far they have been extremely reluctant and in some cases resistant to grasping that opportunity," he said.

Responding to a question from Senator Chris Coons, Jones said the Indian presence in Afghanistan is modest.

"But from the way I've come to understand Pakistan's view with regard to India, one Indian would be too much in Afghanistan. So there's no way to satisfy that, except to continue to be a good interlocutor between India and Pakistan," he observed.

Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Republican of the Committee, said India-Pakistan relationship is clearly at the heart of the problem.

The Obama Administration, Jones said, has tried to play an indirect role in defusing tensions and carrying messages back and forth, and encouraging foreign ministers to meet.

"I think Prime Minister Singh deserves a lot of credit for taking a political risk in his own country to show a more reasonable side in terms of this issue, by working to defuse tensions along the border. He showed great restraint after the Mumbai attack," he said.


First Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 18:44

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