‘US must tilt towards India for Afghan rebuilding’

‘US must tilt towards India for Afghan rebuilding’ 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 troops.

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.