US President Donald Trump has sought an enhanced role for India for bringing peace and stability in strife-torn Afghanistan, while warning Pakistan against supporting safe havens for terrorists.
In a prime time TV address last night, the US President also ruled out a hasty withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan in a speech that spelt out his new approach to the country. There was no immediate official reaction from India to Trump's speech.
'Another critical part of the South Asia strategy for America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India, the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic partner of the United States. We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan,' he said. On Pakistan, he said, 'No partnership can survive a country’s harbouring of militants and terrorists who target US service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order and to peace.' He also noted the fact that Pakistan and India were nuclear armed states and their tense relations could spiral into conflict.
About India's role in Afghanistan, he also said the country 'makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development.' 'In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America’s interests are clear. We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America. And we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us, or anywhere in the world, for that matter,' he said.
Trump also left the door open for including Taliban in the political process in Afghanistan. 'Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But nobody knows if or when that will ever happen,' he said.
Underlining the consequences of a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, the US President said this will create a vacuum for terrorists and cited 9/11 attack was planned when the Taliban government was in power. 'A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. I have said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options,' he said.