India has non-military interest in Afghanistan: Chidambaram
Washington: India has non-military interest in Afghanistan and any Pakistani fears in this regard are imaginary, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Friday.
"We have a non-military interest in Afghanistan. We have committed a billion dollars to the reconstruction of Afghanistan. We are building Afghanistan's parliament. We're building roads... But we've not sent a single soldier to Afghanistan," he told the popular Charlie Rose Show.
"Yes" Chidambaram said when Rose asked if it still scares the Pakistanis to death.
"Pakistan's fears are imaginary. As I said we have not sent a singled soldier," said the Finance Minister.
"Afghanistan is really not our immediate neighbour. It's our neighbour's neighbour. So we recognise that Pakistan has a more than usual interest in Afghanistan. But that's for Pakistan to find a way in which it can evolve or forge a working relationship," he said.
Responding to a question, Chidambaram exuded confidence that the Kashmir issue can be resolved.
"It can be solved. In fact I'm confident it will be solved one day, once Pakistan has a truly democratically elected government," he said.
On Iran, Chidambaram said India does not favour Iran building nuclear weapons.
"Iran and India have a relationship goes back many years. There have been contacts between India and Iran over centuries. There is no reason why we should regard Iran as our enemy or as a hostile country...," he said.
"Just because the US regards Iran as a hostile force there is no reason for us to share that view. But if Iran attempts to make a nuclear weapon, we are on record saying that we don't approve of that. The way to go about it is through the International Atomic Energy Agency to persuade Iran to give up any nuclear ambition," he said.
Chidambaram said all evidence suggest that Iran is far away from building a nuclear weapon.
"The question is: are they enriching uranium which will allow them to build a nuclear weapon. All the evidence points that they are quite far away from doing that," he said.
"The IAEA has not said anything to the contrary. I may be wrong. The hard evidence is on the table. Surely the world will rally around to say Iran should not build a nuclear weapon.
India's position is we cannot afford another country in that region to build a nuclear weapon," Chidambaram said.
"This will have an effect on other countries. Other countries will want to have nuclear weapons. The whole area will get nuclearised and that is bad for world peace," he said.
Chidambaram said, "India has clearly told Iran we do not support Iran's efforts, if any, to build a nuclear weapon. Maybe they are trying. But at the moment, there is no evidence to say that they are building a nuclear weapon."
He reiterated India's position that India would not sign the discriminatory nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
"Not the present one which we believe is discriminatory and we have given reasons for that," he said, adding that the present treaty is discriminatory.
"A non-discriminatory treaty surely India will consent".
Chidambaram said India is building nuclear weapon and that is not a secret.
"We have built a nuclear weapon. But we have also said we will never use it. We will never first use a nuclear weapon. And we would work with all the countries of the world towards nuclear disarmament. In fact it is India which proposed the most comprehensive nuclear disarmament plan to the United Nations," Chidambaram said.