Afghanistan Won't Allow Pakistan to Erode Sovereignty: Rao

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS): Afghanistan is too independent to allow Pakistan to erode its sovereignty and the gradual progress the war-ravaged country has made, says Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

"Afghanistan is a fiercely independent country. And the take away we have had from meetings with the Afghan leadership in the recent past is that they are zealous about guarding that independence and in ensuring that the progress that they have made in Afghanistan over the last nine years is not eroded in any manner," Rao told Karan Thapar on CNN-IBN's Devil's Advocate programme.

Rao was answering a question on whether the Pakistani influence will increase in Afghanistan, as US President Barack Obama's administration sees Islamabad as key to the larger solution.

The Indian foreign secretary stressed that the international community had to stay committed to Afghanistan.

"They are dealing with the war against terror there. That war has to be fought, it has to be won. So, I believe that there is a commitment here that the international community has to reinforce," she said.

Asked how India viewed the possibility of Pakistan-backed Mujahideen leaders like Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani being part of the Afghan government with the Karzai administration negotiating with the Taliban, Rao said the Afghan regime had articulated "red lines" at the London conference in January, which they "intend to adhere to and abide by".

"Now the fact is that you have groups within the Afghan Taliban that are obviously close to Pakistan that promote terrorism, that espouse radical ideologies. And I do not believe, given the approach of the Afghan government to adhering by those red lines that this reality or this possible conclusion that you referred to is really going to come about," she said.


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Title: Afghanistan Won't Allow Pakistan to Erode Sovereignty: Rao

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