India rules out scaling down of support in Afghanistan

Nirupama Rao, Foreign Secretary of India

Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao has ruled out scaling down India’s operations in Afghanistan, according to All India Radio.  Addressing a Washington based think- tank, Woodrow Wilson Centre, she said India is taking all necessary security measures to safeguard Indians living there in the wake of the Feb 26 attack which she said was ‘barbaric’.

Rao, who is presently on a six-day visit to the Washington and New York, US, will meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor James Jones and her American counterpart Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Bill Burns

Fielding questions from the audience, Rao made it clear that India’s restraint should not be confused with weakness and virtually ruled out resumption of composite dialogue. “Our restraint should not be confused with weakness or unwillingness to act against those that seek to harm our people, create insecurity and hamper our developmental goals.”

“Today, Pakistan claims that it is in no position to give us such a guarantee that terrorism can be controlled by its authorities. In such a situation, the people of India who are already bitterly affected by the series of terrorist attacks directed against them can hardly be expected to support the resumption of a full-blown Composite Dialogue with Pakistan,” Rao said.

And went to observer:  “… please realise that there are groups in Pakistan that continue to follow an agenda of violence, of hatred. I did not want to bring the name of Hafiz Saeed and Jamaat-ud-Dawah and the LeT … we feel (they) continue to roam, to speak, to be allowed unhindered access to media, to channels to communicate that agenda (of violence).. That affects us; our people are concerned about it….”

“It is very, very difficult to be convinced in such a situation that we should set aside these concerns and just move on. And that is why, I said when you talk of resuming composite dialogue (it) becomes very, very difficult to do that in the current situation,” the foreign secretary said.  At the same time, she said the door for talks with Pakistan had never been shut.

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