US Afghan policy keeps Indian interests in mind: Holbrooke

July 26th, 2010 - 12:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Richard Holbrooke Washington, July 26 (IANS) The United States says it’s trying to reduce the historic gap between Islamabad and Kabul to make them work together in Afghanistan, while taking into account the strategic interests of India and other regional neighbours.
“We have a policy here which is to try to reduce the gap between, a historic gap which goes back to the independence of 63 years ago, and that is moving forward,” Richard Holbrooke, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told CNN Sunday.

“It’s a tough, difficult policy. But it is the only one that meets our regional and international/national security interests,” he said when asked about reports that the Pakistani military was trying to cut a deal with Kabul in a post-American Afghan region.

A dialogue has begun between Pakistani army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “That is a good thing, not a bad thing,” he said suggesting the previous Bush administration made no successful efforts at this. “As long as they had no dialogue, you couldn’t get anywhere.”

Asked if Pakistan was finally cooperating and its attitude towards Taliban changing since in the CIA director, Leon Panetta’s estimate, there are three times as many Al Qaeda members in Pakistan as there are in Afghanistan, Holbrooke said: “You can’t just go after the Pakistanis to do this and do that in the tribal areas.”

“You have to have an entire approach to the country,” he said. “This has been lacking for over a decade. We are approaching the country differently, and we’re beginning to see real signs of movement. But nonetheless, we still have problems.”

Appearing on the same talk show, Dr. Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former administation official, said Pakistanis have been “playing double and triple games” as it sees Afghanistan as a strategic space for it to manipulate as part of its larger struggle against India.

“Well, they were playing double and triple games long before the United States showed any signs of questioning its policy. That’s Pakistan,” he said.

“So long as the Taliban enjoy a sanctuary in Pakistan, so long as the Taliban continue to be the Taliban. The challenge of making enduring improvements in Afghanistan I actually think is a bridge too far,” Haass said.

“Pakistan is not a serious partner of the United States. They’re not a strategic partner,” he said. “Pakistan sees Afghanistan as a strategic space for it to manipulate as part of its larger struggle against India,” Haas said.

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