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
"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.