India obsession holds back Pakistan in terror fight: envoy

July 29th, 2010 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 29 (IANS) Pakistan’s envoy to the US Husain Haqqani has acknowledged that Islamabad’s “preoccupation with India” was a factor that came in the way of its doing more to show its commitment to fighting terror.

“And then, above all, there is a concern that India is not reconciled to our sort of nationhood and statehood. And so those are concerns that are reflected in public opinion,” Haqqani told PBS.

“And the government also has to deal with the view that the United States has not been a consistent friend of Pakistan. And if we do too much at the behest of the United States, the US could leave us in the lurch and walk away again.

“Pakistan became an ally of the United States in the 50s. We were part of the Southeast Asia and the Central Treaty Organizations,” Haqqani said.

“And yet Pakistan’s concerns about India were not addressed by the Americans, and several concerns about our region were not understood or fully comprehended by Pakistan’s various leaders.”

Islamabad has no intention of trying to carve out a sphere of influence in Afghanistan, he said but is indeed “concerned about the influence of India in Afghanistan”.

Haqqani said: “We are concerned about the influence of India in Afghanistan because we have had conflict with India and we do not want to have a situation in which we are caught in a pincer movement.”

“But the solution to that lies in talking to the Indians, talking to the Afghans, and we are doing both. We want good relations with our neighbours, have no intention of trying to carve out a sphere of influence in Afghanistan,” he added.

Asked to comment on US joint chiefs of staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen’s statement that Pakistan spy agency ISI’s links to Lashkar-e-Taeba (LeT) as well as the Haqqani Network was unacceptable, Haqqani said “Mullen’s views are views that are understood and also shared at the highest levels of government in Pakistan.”

“Lashkar-e-Taeba is a banned group in Pakistan. But there are elements connected to that group that still operate, and Pakistan is dealing with that.”

The Pakistani government is working very hard at bringing about normalcy in relations with India, but there are outstanding issues that keep cropping up there as well, he said and added: “So what we are trying to do is deal with several of these issues at a time when we have severe economic and social pressures within our society.”

Claiming that the “historic relationship” between ISI and the Taliban was a reality of the post, Haqqani said, “the government in Pakistan, including our military and our intelligence services, are very clear about the future direction.”

Pakistan was worried “about the endgame in Afghanistan”, he said. “But Pakistan does not want a return of the Taliban to Afghanistan.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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