Washington, DC – Pakistan’s top diplomat in the US recently ridiculed India’s attempts to meddle in Pakistani affairs through proxy participation in Afghanistan but reiterated Islamabad’s commitment to strong ties with the US.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, addressed his country’s perspective on the changes taking place in South Asia and the prospects for peace and stability in the region.
Labeling the situation in South Asia as “uncertain,” Ambassador Chaudhry noted, “India and China have an uneasy peace. India and Pakistan are not talking. Afghanistan remains not in good shape, and the security situation has deteriorated by all accounts.”
On the role being played by India, Ambassador Chaudhry expressed desire to have a dialog with India saying, “We hope there will be occasions to have candid conversations … as to what role India is playing or needs to play in Afghanistan.”
Explaining Islamabad’s objections to India playing any prominent role in Afghanistan, the ambassador accused Delhi of using Afghan soil to create instability in Pakistan.
Highlighting the use of Afghan soil by India “to create instability in Baluchistan, in particular,” the ambassador said, “(That) hurts us,” adding, “Therefore, we believe India should not have a role that will give it a position to create a situation which is not desirable for us.”
Alleging that India was also using Afghanistan to create a double squeeze against Pakistan, the ambassador said, “We believe India does not have a military or political role in Afghanistan.”
“The situation, unfortunately, in Afghanistan is not that optimistic in my view. I think, the security situation has deteriorated, and it has emerged as a singular most challenge for Pakistan as well,” he said.
On US-Pakistan ties, the ambassador said that there is always a success when both countries work together, while when they have not, they almost certainly failed. He stressed that Pakistan’s ties with China will not be at the expense of the 70 years of robust relations with the United States, calling it “not a zero-sum game for us.”
Naming the US the “singular most important country,” the ambassador announced, “It is a relationship that we value, and we want to maintain, and we want to strengthen.”
On behalf of the present civil-military leadership of Pakistan, he assured that both are united in the fight against terrorism and will not allow any militant safe havens in the country.
Doubling down on the need to ensure lasting peace in neighboring Afghanistan, the ambassador pointed to the porous borders, which have resulted in 125 acts of terrorism in Pakistan by militants from Afghanistan.
With the US already spending more than $680 billion-plus to sustain efforts in Afghanistan, the Pakistani diplomat lamented that Afghanistan had emerged as a prime reason for differences between the two nations. “It is ironical because we both see Afghanistan situation with objectives which are similar; although the approaches are different,” said Chaudhry arguing that Pakistan had suffered when the Soviets abandoned Afghanistan but added on a positive note that the US wants to stabilize the country and would not like to leave it in a state that prevailed before 9/11.
Tejinder Singh was the Founder and Editor of India America Today, and is the inspiration for Global Strat View.