India has welcomed United States President Donald Trump’s new policy on Afghanistan , saying his move will help target “safe havens” of terrorism in South Asia.
A couple of former diplomats also said that their call for an end to Pakistan’s involvement in terrorism in Afghanistan and Mr. Trump's support for an Afghanistan-led peace process addressed a core concern of India.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, “We welcome President Trump’s determination to enhance efforts to overcome the challenges facing Afghanistan and confronting issues of safe havens and other forms of cross-border support enjoyed by terrorists.”
Satinder Lambah, former Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India on Afghanistan and Pakistan, told The Hindu that Mr. Trump supported the long-held Indian foreign policy principles of non-intervention and non-interference and ended uncertainties over the U.S.' involvement in Afghanistan.
“We welcome the move to have an Afghanistan-led and Afghanistan-owned peace process to ensure peace and stability in Afghanistan. By asking the Afghans to take charge of their internal affairs, President Trump has vindicated the position that India first took in the 1980s and have maintained ever since,” he said.
In his speech on Monday , Mr. Trump urged India to do more to help Afghanistan with its developmental needs and urged Pakistan to stop the terror attacks that originate from its territory.
India responded, saying that it shared concerns of the U.S. government. “We are committed to supporting the government and the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to bring peace, security and stability and prosperity in their country. We have been steadfast in extending reconstruction and development assistance to Afghanistan in keeping with our traditional friendship with its people. We will continue these efforts,” said the MEA.
Mr. Lambah, however, pointed out that Indian developmental work in the civil war-torn country cannot progress unless the security situation improved.
Former Indian envoy to Kabul Amar Sinha said Mr. Trump had put Pakistan on notice and his declaration of a new wave of attacks against Taliban and other terror groups ended distinctions like ‘good Taliban’ and ‘bad Taliban’.
“Unlike his two immediate predecessors, President Trump has indicated that the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan will not be calendar driven and that the U.S. forces will stay in the country as long as necessary. This is a very clear enunciation of the U.S. policy objectives, which is based on the security needs of the region”, Mr. Sinha said, adding that by demanding “immediate” end to support to terror groups by Pakistan, Mr. Trump had made a strong point.
The former diplomat, however, pointed out that by not asking India to contribute to the military front directly, the U.S. has spared New Delhi of a major responsibility. “It is good that Mr. Trump has not asked India for boots on the ground or a direct role in the security front,” said a commentator requesting anonymity.
“The U.S. needs to ensure better security situation for the Indian development work to have the expected impact and the U.S. should also bring in Japan, the European Union and others into the developmental framework of Afghanistan,” said Mr. Lambah. Several countries that are solely invested in finding a security solution to Afghanistan’s four-decade long crisis should also enter the developmental field, he added.