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Updated: December 3, 2009 09:14 IST

Indo-Pak relations critical for stability of the region: Mullen

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Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen during a hearing on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, in Washington on Wednesday. Photo: AP
AP Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen during a hearing on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, in Washington on Wednesday. Photo: AP

Acknowledging that India is a big player in the region, a top US military leader has said that the relationship between India and Pakistan is critical for the stability in the region.

“India is a big player in that region as well,” Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in response to a question at House Committee on Foreign Affairs; which held a hearing on Afghanistan.

“I think all of us -- international players, particular regional players -- have to take steps to stabilize. The relationship between Pakistan and India is critical.

Leadership there must, I think, step forward to stabilize that border more than anything else. I think that would be a great step forward in stabilizing the region,” Mullen said.

Mullen was responding to a question from Democrat Congressman Donald Payne.

“Is there any way we can impress Pakistan that India is not their biggest enemy, about Kashmir, and have Pakistan concentrate more on Pakistan and stop worrying about India and some India-Pakistan conflict?” Payne asked.

In answer to another question from Congressman Bill Delahunt, the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said the Obama Administration did consult India on its new Af-Pak policy.

“Yes” Ms. Clinton said, when Delahunt asked: “Secretary Clinton, if you have time, have we consulted with the Indians in terms of their relationship with Pakistan in reducing the concern that the Pakistanis have relative to India?” Meanwhile in an interview to MSNBC, Senator Allen Specter, argued the US should work to reduce the tension between India and Pakistan.

“I would like to have seen him (Obama) say and do that we’re going to work hard to relieve the tension between India and Pakistan. Pakistan has a lot of troops on the border.

India is not going to attack Pakistan. But if that situation could be defused, then Pakistan could help a lot with the Taliban,” Specter said.

“I do not want to see the United States men and women over there fighting the Taliban. And al Qaeda can organize someplace else. I’d like to see him get more out of Pakistan and not try to intervene in what is essentially a civil war between the Taliban and the Karzai government in Pakistan,” he said.

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