Top US commander in Afghanistan makes rare visit to India

In a first of its kind development, a top American commander in Afghanistan recently visited India to hold talks with senior Indian leadership on the country's role in the war-torn Afghanistan vis-a-vis Pakistan and China.

PTI| Updated: Oct 09, 2015, 13:20 PM IST

Washington: The top commander of US and allied forces in Afghanistan was on an unannounced visit to India recently to hold talks with senior Indian leadership on the country's role in the war-torn Afghanistan vis-a-vis Pakistan and China.

Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan General John Campbell told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing yesterday that he travelled to New Delhi to discuss Afghanistan's situation with Indian leaders.

"I did have the opportunity a couple of weeks ago to go to India to talk to some of the senior leadership in India to talk about Afghanistan, how they're tied in with Afghanistan," Campbell said.

"What that means to China and Pakistan. It's quite helpful for me and also to explain how Afghanistan is tied into that," he said.

Campbell said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was reaching out to the entire region as part of his effort to push the country on the path of sustainable peace and development.

"I think it's quite helpful. Last Monday, I was in Germany for a day with General Austin. We brought the chiefs of defence from five other countries surrounding Afghanistan to bring them together to talk Pakistan, Turkestan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan," he said.

"All came together to talk about regional issues, border issues, drug smuggling, what they can do to enable each other to fight this common enemy so it was quite good," Campbell said.

India has strategic interest in war-torn Afghanistan and is undertaking a number of projects there for its rebuilding which Pakistan and China are sceptical about over influence in the region.

Pakistan, which has been jockeying for a larger role in the Afghan peace process, has often been accused of trying to create "strategic depth" in Afghanistan.

Islamabad accuses India of indulging in a proxy war in its territory through Afghanistan, a charge vehemently denied by New Delhi.