India on Monday told the United States that it had no agenda in Afghanistan except to see it emerge as a stable and peaceful country.
To this end, India would continue to work in Afghanistan on development projects but with no geo-political ambitions forming the backdrop to this effort, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told visiting U.S. Special Envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke here.
Mr. Holbrooke was also told about India’s involvement in infrastructure building in Afghanistan such as a new Parliament building, transmission lines and roads. All of this indicated no activity that should cause a security concern to some other country.
The U.S. Special Envoy said he was looking forward to the international conference on Afghanistan, scheduled for January 28 in London, and expected a positive contribution from India.
He also informed Mr. Krishna about two preparatory meets scheduled in Turkey with India participating in one of them. Mr. Krishna is scheduled to attend the London meeting.
Mr. Holbrooke also briefed the Minister about the steps taken by the U.S. in Afghanistan and the content of his talks in Islamabad and Kabul.
Sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said Mr. Krishna indicated India’s keenness to see the situation stabilise in Afghanistan but professed its disinterestedness on other issues of tactical military importance.
Emerging from the talks, Mr. Holbrooke said India was a “tremendously important participant in the search for peace and stability not only in south Asia but throughout the vast region that stretches from the Mediterranean to the Pacific.”
He reiterated the U.S.’ expectation of “more action” from Pakistan in routing the Taliban from its bases on the Afghan-Pakistan border despite being encouraged by its battle with the militants in the Swat Valley.
The main subject of his talks with the Pakistani leadership during his ongoing three-nation visit was the spread of Taliban in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP)
Mr. Holbroke did not think Monday’s attack in Kabul was surprising “since they are desperate people.”
He said: “They are ruthless and the people who are doing this will certainly not survive this attack nor will they succeed, but we can expect this sort of thing on a regular basis.
“That is what Taliban are. They are part of extremist groups operating in the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan and they do these desperate things all the time and India knows all this.”
MEA officials said they had noted Mr. Holbrooke’s assertion in Kabul on Sunday that the U.S. felt it was up to India and Pakistan to normalise the relations.
Mr. Holbrooke had denied he was acting as a messenger or a go-between in trying to improve ties between the two neighbours.