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India slams US secy for Afghan remarks

Posted on Feb 27, 03:25PM | IBNS

New Delhi/Washington, Feb 27 : India has slammed the US Defense Secretary designate Chuck Hagel for his remarks that said India "financed problems" in Afghanistan to cause harm to Pakistan.

"Senator Hagel's remarks are in sharp contrast to the viewpoint of the Obama Administration that has always been in praise of India's developmental role in Afghanistan and in fact has been pressing New Delhi to do more in Afghanistan," the Indian embassy in Washington had said in a statement.

The remarks, which were a part of a speech by Hagel in 2011, was recently uploaded by an online newspaper.

"India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border"," Hagel was quoted as saying.

"And you can carry that into many dimensions, the point being [that] the tense, fragmented relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been there for many, many years," he had added.

In reply to such accusations, the Indian embassy's statement said, "Such comments attributed to Senator Hagel, who has been a long-standing friend of India and a prominent votary of close India-US relations are contrary to the reality of India's unbounded dedication to the welfare of Afghan people."

India said it seeks to strengthen the hands of the Afghan people in bringing peace and prosperity to their country.

India has also noted that India's assistance to Afghanistan has helped build vital civil infrastructure, develop human resources and capacity in areas like education, health, agriculture and rural development.

"The primary objective of India's development partnership, covering the entire territory of Afghanistan and every development sector, is to build indigenous Afghan capacity and institutions," an Indian foreign ministry official earlier said.

Infact in this same context, India and Britain on Feb 19 had discussed the situation in Afghanistan and the threat from terrorists after withdrawal of NATO troops at the end of 2014.

Visiting British Prime Minister David Cameron and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had then assured to support the terrorism-hit nation in rebuilding even after NATO troops were withdrawn from there by December 2014.

With India having a difficult relationship with Pakistan in the neighbourhood and targetted by terrorists from the region, the country is worried over the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan scheduled in December 2014.