22 July : With the US having announced that it will begin pulling out its troops from Afghanistan from July 2011, India on Thursday said that “international presence” in the war-torn country was needed for a much longer time.
Just back from Kabul after attending an international conference on Afghanistan, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna told media in New Delhi that he shared President Hamid Karzai’s enthusiasm for Afghan forces to take over security of the entire country from 2014.
“He is very enthusiastic and I am very happy about it. He is also confident that he will be able to raise his own security force,” said Krishna, who had discussions with Karzai and U S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Afghan capital.
Asked if India was willing to help in raising the security forces necessary for the task, the minister replied, “Well, if Afghanistan asks India shall help. We have been helping Afghanistan in our own way. It depends on what kind of help they seek and what kind of help we can render.”
Responding to a question as to whether the US decision to commence troops pull out in a year was premature, Krishna said, “I feel that international presence is needed in Afghanistan for a much longer time than it has now been projected. We hope that international presence will act as some kind of insulation to Afghanistan for normalization.”
Asked whether India would like the US to take a fresh look at its decision, the minister said that New Delhi had conveyed its views to the US and to Afghanistan in bilateral meetings.
To a question on Pakistan’s efforts to play the power broker in Afghanistan, Krishna said that India had emphasized that initiative for future set up in the country had to be “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned”.
Asked whether there was a shift in India’s stand on good Taliban and bad Taliban, he said, “Well, we cannot wish away Taliban. Who are Taliban–they are all citizens of Afghanistan.
“There is a realisation among individual members of Taliban that their movement is not going to be helpful to Afghanistan and that they should reconsider their association with Taliban. Then I think they should go back to the mainstream.”