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Trump administration wants to engage India more effectively in Afghanistan: Mike Pence

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-08-2017 Lalit K Jha

Washington: The Trump administration wants to engage India more effectively in Afghanistan and hold Pakistan accountable for its actions in the region, US Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday. His comments came hours after President Donald Trump hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists.

“We want to strengthen the partnership between Afghanistan and India. We want to hold Pakistan more accountable for their actions in the region,” Pence said. “What President Trump announced on Monday was a whole new strategy for South Asia that said, look, we’re going to provide the resources and the military personnel and the air assets necessary to support the Afghan army’s efforts to defeat the Taliban,” the Vice-President told Fox News.

He said the US would destroy terrorist networks that use Afghanistan and portions of Pakistan as safe havens and asked Islamabad to step up and be a more effective partner in confronting the terrorist organizations, some 20 of which harbor in Afghanistan and regions in Pakistan. “We’re going to engage India more effectively in Afghanistan,” Pence said.

India has been supporting an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, broad-based and inclusive process of peace and reconciliation, and advocating the need for a sustained and long-term commitment to Afghanistan by the international community.

“We’ll let the Afghan people build their own nation. Our objective there is to advance the security of the United States of America and to support the Afghan national army as they stay in the lead, in the fight,” said the Vice President.

In an op-ed in USA Today, Pence alleged that Pakistan too often turns a blind eye to the cancer of terrorism and in many cases it has contributed to the growth of terrorist groups. “Pakistan, like Afghanistan, is a haven for terrorist activity. Between the two countries, no fewer than 20 US- designated foreign terrorist organizations have haven and conduct operations — the highest concentration of any region in the world.

Pakistan, which has borne the weight of terrorist attacks in the past, shares with us,” he wrote. He said America will not write a blank check for countries that fail to root out the same forces who try every day to kill its people. Pence said that Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with American effort in Afghanistan. It has much more to lose by supporting terrorists, he warned.

“The president has put them on notice,” he said. Pence said President’s strategy for South Asia involves a stronger strategic partnership with India — the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner.

“India has made important contributions towards Afghanistan’s stability and security, and India has also pledged critical support to Afghanistan’s development needs. Because they directly affect America’s interests, America will continue to work closely with New Delhi on these issues,” Pence wrote. PTI

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