The United States is heading for a change in its posture on Afghanistan but it’s not clear as to what that position would be, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Wednesday.
“On Afghanistan and Pakistan, I’ve had conversations with the Americans in Washington and otherwise on Afghanistan. A lot of that stays with me. But my overall impression is that – I mean, it’s not an impression, I think everybody can see that – the US is heading for a change of posture, but what exactly that change of posture would be is unclear,” Mr. Jaishankar told a Washington think-tank.
Mr. Jaishankar observed a series of meetings with the top American leadership including the US Secretary of State and the US National Security Advisor.
After his interaction with members of The Heritage Foundation think-tank, he met the US Defense Secretary at the Pentagon.
“At this point, I assume reasonably that that’s an internal debate, which is as it should be,” he said, adding that he might have his views, but he has to consider the reality.
“At the end of the day, it is completely America’s business, what posture it has,” he said.
So, India’s conversations with the US are largely around what needs to be done to maintain and to secure the gains made in Afghanistan in the last 18 years.
India, he said, has historical, cultural and now economic, developmental, political relationships with Afghanistan. It has security elements as well, he added.
“We know that it’s a very, extremely pluralistic polity. That has its sort of challenges. But overall, we do believe that, in any country, the people of that country, the elected representatives of that country, all of them should have a very major voice about the direction of events in that society,” he said.
This, he said, would be one of India’s guiding principles as it looks at Afghanistan, he said.
About the role of Pakistan, Mr. Jaishankar in response to a question said that India can give a long list of its development projects in Afghanistan.
“I would like to see a list of Pakistani development projects in Afghanistan,” he said.
“If you ask (Pakistan) what did you contribute in the last 18 years, I think probably the best answer they would come up with is, we host a lot of refugees (from Afghanistan), which is true. But then it’s a question of what they did with that housing,” Mr. Jaishankar said.