India’s role in Afghanistan crucial, says Burns

May 11th, 2009 - 5:32 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, May 11 (IANS) Stating that India has a crucial role to play in rebuilding Afghanistan, a former top US official has said it would be a “major mistake” to prevent New Delhi from contributing to the development of the war-ravaged country at the insistence of Pakistan.
“I don’t think we can afford to turn down assistance from great countries like India. India has a major role to play in Afghanistan,” Nicholas Burns, former US under secretary of state for political affairs, said.

“I don’t think we’re in the position to say this country cannot participate in rebuilding of Afghanistan because of differences between Pakistan and India,” the Online news agency reported Sunday quoting him from an interview with Yale Global Online.

Observing that the Indian role in helping Afghans has been very positive, Burns, who played a key role in the signing of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, said: “I think that would be a grave mistake. And India needs to be given its place to work alongside the rest of us to help the Afghan people.”

Burns was responding to a question that Pakistan’s Army might not cooperate with the US if India continues with its reconstruction work in Afghanistan.

India has been building roads, schools and hospitals in Afghanistan as part of a $1.2 billion programme.

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