‘US must tilt towards India for Afghan rebuilding’

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 19:22

Chicago: Advocating a US "tilt" towards
India, a top Senator has said New Delhi should take over the
role of rebuilding Afghanistan after the American troops`
withdrawal from the war-torn country.

Senator Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican who has just
returned from a two-week deployment to Afghanistan as a US
Naval Reserve Intelligence Commander, called Pakistan a
"disloyal" ally of the United States which should
"discontinue" its aid to Islamabad.

Pointing to a map of Afghanistan, Kirk told the Chicago
Sun-Times that what he saw over the past two weeks was that
the southern region of Afghanistan around Kandahar, which used
to be very much under the influence of the Taliban, has not
been tamed by President Barack Obama`s "surge" of 35,000 US

The Senator said that the newest hot spots in the Eastern
region around Kabul are coming under the influence of the
Haqqani network of the Taliban which is based in Pakistan and
"protected" by the Pakistani government and military.

"I think the United States should tilt toward India,"
Kirk, a former Naval officer, was quoted as saying.

"As much as the Pakistani officials claim otherwise, the
Haqqanis are backed and protected by Pakistan`s own
intelligence service," Kirk said. "Statements by Pakistani
government officials to the contrary are lies."

While the government of Pakistan does cooperate with the
United states on "two dozen" captures or killings of al Qaeda
militants every year, the Pakistani government`s "protection"
of forces that are killing US troops outweighs the benefits of
US support, Kirk said, arguing in favour of punishing Pakistan
and saving the US money.

Continued aid to Pakistan is "naive at best,
counter-productive at worst," he said.

The Afghan army costs about USD 11 billion a year and the
Afghan government collects only USD 1 billion in taxes, Kirk
was quoted as saying. Some third party has to pick up that
cost to prevent the Afghan military from dissolving, he said.

Kirk also suggested that since after United States, India
has the second highest investment in Afghanistan, India would
be a neighbour with a stake in keeping Afghanistan`s
government stable and a logical choice to take over the US`
role once the United States leaves Afghanistan.

However, Kirk`s Democratic counterpart Dick Durbin,
speaking at the Pritzker Military Library, said he disagreed
with him and feared how much worse the situation could become
in both Pakistan and Afghanistan if the US gave up trying to
steer Pakistan away from supporting terrorists.

He suggested that although he was disappointed with
Pakistan too, he would not speak in favour of giving India the
responsibility of rebuilding Afghanistan because both India
and Pakistan are nuclear powers.


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First Published: Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 19:22

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