India major factor in resolving Afghanistan issue: Holbrooke

March 22nd, 2009 - 5:09 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Brussels, March 22 (IANS) US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke has said India’s role is “critical” in resolving the Afghanistan crisis and President Barack Obama’s administration “closely consulted India every step of the way”.
“India, of course, is the great power of the region, the great emerging in an international context and its views, its role are a critical factor. And so we consult India closely every step of the way,” Holbrooke told a security conference in Brussels Saturday, the EuAsiaNews reported.

Holbrooke said that he and US military chief Mike Mullin would visit New Delhi after the NATO summit (on April 3-4) was over.

The officials are expected to discuss the results of the strategic review of Afghanistan and Pakistan policy and find out areas where India can help resolving the insurgency problem in the war-torn country.

Holbrooke said the insurgents were operating out of bases in Pakistan, which is more interested in fighting India than insurgents in lawless tribal areas.

“They (Indians) are not part of the problem the way Pakistan is but they’re certainly a major factor in resolving,” the US diplomat told the Brussels Forum, the high-level meeting of influential North American and European political, corporate, and intellectual leaders.

“The actual people who pose a direct threat to the countries represented in this room, the people who planned 9/11, who killed Benazir Bhutto, who committed the atrocities in Mumbai, who were terrorising Swat, who probably were associated with the attack on the cricket team in Lahore, who are associated with daily outrages - they are not in Afghanistan. They’re in Pakistan. In the western so-called tribal areas, although it also extends down into Baluchistan,” said the US official.

“And you can’t succeed in Afghanistan if you don’t solve the problem of western Pakistan,” he stressed.

The starting point for the new US administration’s approach to the region is going to be to treat it as an integrated whole, a single theatre of war, with very different rules on each side of the border, he said.

“We must recognise that the heart of the threat to the United States, to the European Union, to Australia, to many other countries in the world including India and, I stress, including Pakistan itself, comes from western — the people in western Pakistan,” Holbrooke underlined.

The fourth Brussels Forum is organised by The German Marshall Fund of the US, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Daimler.

Participants in the three-day forum, which kicked off Friday evening, include heads of state, senior officials from the European Union, US Cabinet officials, Congressional representatives, parliamentarians, academics, and media.

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