Tillerson in Afghanistan: Discusses US Afghanistan strategy, Pakistan and India
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson paid a short surprise visit to Afghanistan ahead of his visit to India and Pakistan. While meeting Afghan leaders, he discussed the new US strategy towards ending "America's longest war." He added that he would soon visit Pakistan to enforce the Trump administration's toughened stance on Islamabad to make it act against home-grown terror. Here's more about it.
Trump unveils Afghanistan strategy, asks India to play greater role
On 22 August, Trump announced that he's putting a new strategy in place for Afghanistan and South Asia. He said he'd prolong the US military intervention in Afghanistan, but didn't mention how many US troops he'll send or for how long they'll stay. He said he'll encourage India to play a greater role in Afghanistan and also warned Pakistan against supporting terrorists.
Tillerson's surprise visit to Afghanistan: What happened?
Tillerson held discussions with Afghan leaders, including President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other US and Afghan officials at the Bagram airbase, the main US military facility in Afghanistan. The visit was kept highly secretive for security reasons.
What did Tillerson say?
Tillerson clarified that Washington had made "specific requests" to Islamabad to undermine the support that "Taliban and other terrorist organizations receive." He also said that he would request India to expand its economic/development assistance to Afghanistan. He stressed that the US strategy in Afghanistan was not time-bound and that the US would stay until "a process of reconciliation and peace" is secured.
US starts echoing India's views on Pakistan's state-sponsored terrorism
Speaking in Riyadh during his first official foreign visit in August, Trump recognized India as a "victim of terror." During PM Modi's US visit, America designated anti-India Hizbul Mujahideen-chief, Syed Salahuddin a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist." Trump warned Pakistan against supporting home-grown terrorists while unveiling his new Afghanistan strategy. Similar views have been echoed by top Trump administration officials thereafter.
Involvement in Afghanistan: Why is it important for India?
India has been among the biggest regional supporters of the current Afghan civilian government and has been involved in numerous development assistance projects across the country. A stable Afghanistan is in India's interests as it significantly reduces threats from terrorist elements coming from across the border. Afghanistan is also a major bilateral trading partner and India's gateway to trade with Central Asian countries.