PM Says, Pak Wants US To Get Out Of Afghanistan Fast

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has questioned Pakistan's role in Afghanistan and has said: ‘As far as Afghanistan is concerned, I'm not sure whether the US and Pakistan have the same objectives. Pakistan would like Afghanistan
pm says pak wants us to get out of afghanistan...
PTI November 23, 2009 9:16 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has questioned Pakistan's role in Afghanistan and has said: ‘As far as Afghanistan is concerned, I'm not sure whether the US and Pakistan have the same objectives. Pakistan would like Afghanistan to be under its control. And they would like the United States to get out soon.'

In an interview to Newsweek published on the eve of his state visit to Washington, Prime Minister Singh said, the US and Pakistan did not have the same objectives in Afghanistan.
 
He said, India wanted democracy to succeed in Pakistan. "We will not like to see terrorists reducing the civilian government in Pakistan to a nominal one".

The Indian prime minister arrived in Washington on Sunday on a four-day trip meant to solidify a relationship transformed under the Bush administration by a nuclear deal, a two-fold increase in trade and investment and unprecedented security collaboration.

Expressing grave concern over the rise of terrorism in Pakistan, Singh noted that the terrorists, once confined to the tribal areas, had now moved to other parts of the country.

‘I think it has very serious consequences for our own security. We would not like terrorism to lead to a situation where the (Pakistani) civilian government is only a nominal government,' he warned.

‘Don't you think that's the situation now?' he was asked.

‘I'm not saying that's the situation now. We would like democracy to succeed in Pakistan. But obviously now Al Qaeda and the terrorists have a grip over several parts of Pakistan,' Mr Singh replied.

For India, he said, the most important issue is to see the terror groups in Pakistan brought under control. India had been the victim of ‘Pakistan-aided, -abetted, and -inspired terrorism' for nearly 25 years.

He said that India would like Washington to use all its influence to persuade Pakistan to desist from that path. ‘Pakistan has nothing to fear from India.

I have said on many public occasions that the destinies of our two countries are interlinked. We should both be waging war against poverty, ignorance, and disease, which afflicts millions of people in our poor countries.'

Singh warned that if the United States left Afghanistan, Al Qaeda could get another foothold in that country and the withdrawal might also lead to a civil war.

‘I sincerely hope the US and the global community will stay involved in Afghanistan,' he said. ‘A victory for the Taliban in Afghanistan would have catastrophic consequences for the world, particularly for South Asia, for Central Asia, for the Middle East.'

Singh noted that in the 1980s, ‘religious fundamentalism' was used to defeat the Soviet Union. ‘If this same group of people that defeated the Soviet Union now defeat the other major power (America), this would embolden them in a manner which could have catastrophic consequences for the world at large,' he warned.

In an interview to CNN, Singh on Sunday said he never thought that he would get an opportunity to lead India one day, and attributed his success to the functioning of democracy in the country.

"I never thought that I would reach that far," the Prime Minister said. 

"I am what I am, because of the education that I received.

"But it's due to democracy that a person with such a background as mine can, I think, become the Prime Minister of this great republic of ours," Singh said in response to a question.

Asked whether world has anything to learn from the Indian democracy, the Prime Minister said if it (India) succeeds in remaining a functioning democracy, and simultaneously tackling problems of poverty, disease, illiteracy, it is going to be an international public good.

"It would have lessons for the evolution of the countries of the hitherto Third World in the 21st century," the Prime Minister said.

"The fact that there are very few countries of India's size, which have remained functioning democracy throughout the 60 years of our independence, I think the world has to recognise that.

"If we do succeed, it will have some bearing on the evolution of the countries of the Third World in the 21st century," Singh said.

Singh on Sunday started a high-profile state visit to the United States with a call on President Barack Obama to stay committed on Afghanistan and pressure Pakistan.

The Indian premier arrived at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington to kick off the first full-fledged state visit of Obama's presidency, which will culminate in a swank black-tie dinner at the White House on Tuesday.

While a host of issues are on the table, experts say Obama's main intention was to demonstrate his commitment to the world's largest democracy after an early focus on working with its neighbors China and Pakistan.

But Singh made clear he would not shy away from offering advice on the top foreign issue for Obama -- Afghanistan. Obama is wrapping up weeks of deliberation on whether to reinforce the 68,000 US troops who will be in Afghanistan by year-end.

"It is very important that both the US and the global community stay engaged in Afghanistan," Singh said in an interview with USA's The Washington Post and Newsweek, warning of civil war if US forces withdrew.

Singh also called for the Obama administration to pressure Pakistan to rein in Islamic extremists, saying that India's historic rival has not done enough against militants blamed for last year's chilling assault on Mumbai.

"We have been the victims of Pakistan-aided, -abetted and-inspired terrorism for nearly 25 years. We would like the United States to use all its influence with Pakistan to desist from that path," Singh said in the interview.

"Pakistan has nothing to fear from India. It's a tragedy that Pakistan has come to the point of using terror as an instrument of state policy," he said. PTI

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