Refuting reports that it has been “squeezed out” of Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna has said India was playing a “stellar role” in rebuilding the war-torn country which was acknowledged by the people and the legitimate government there.
He also said India has taken note of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s statement that it was a friend and Pakistan a conjoined twin.
“I do not think that India has been squeezed out. I think India is playing a stellar role in rebuilding Afghanistan which has been acknowledged by the people of Afghanistan and by the legitimate Government of Afghanistan, and that is what matters,” Krishna said in an interview to Karan Thapar for Devil’s Advocate.
He was asked about the media reports that whilst Pakistan’s influence was growing, India was either left out of the loop or is being squeezed out.
On Mr. Karzai’s statement, the minister said “In President Karzai’s assessment, I think that is the scheme of things.”
“We take note of that”, was his reply when asked if it worried India.
About attacks on Indians, Mr. Krishna noted that those who have gone there on humanitarian purposes are unarmed which makes them “easy and soft targets” but he said Afghanistan government has assured that they will be able to protect the Indian personnel who have gone there on call of duty.
He said “apart from what the Afghanistan government is doing, India will have to take some additional measures ourselves.”
The Minister also rejected the reports that the US Administration was trying to minimise India’s presence in Afghanistan.
“We have in our interactions with the US Administration at various levels not got the impression that the United States is trying to convey directly or indirectly to the Indian Government that our presence in Afghanistan should be minimised. That is not my impression,” he said.