Vastavam web: US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said that India’s decision not to send troops to war-torn Afghanistan was perhaps guided by the Pakistan factor.Mattis praised India’s contributions to Afghanistan’s development before lawmakers at House Armed Services Committee, saying New Delhi has adopted a holistic approach in its assistance towards the country.”We’re trying to make this an inclusive strategy and we don’t want them to get a sense that they’re vulnerable to any Indian Army people from their western flank, that’s not necessary,” Mattis said.
Mattis was in New Delhi last month and held talks with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.Sitharaman had ruled out any troop contribution in Afghanistan and said it will continue to provide development assistance to the country.”If there’s any way for Pakistan and India to open their border to trade at great economic advantage to both of the countries, it would be a big help across the region,” he said.Stability can follow economics as much as stability enables economics, he added. He hoped that they will eventually see that happen.
“I believe India wants that to happen, but it’s very hard to do that if your concern is that you open the border to one thing, and you get something else,” Mattis said in an oblique reference to cross-border infilteration.India, he said, is willing to do rehabilitation of Soviet-era equipment until they are replaced with American.Mattis said there are many areas where India and the US are natural partners for each other. The two countries, he said, are deepening and broadening the military-to-military relationship.”But it is not an exclusive strategy, exclusive of anyone. Any nation that wants to be part of the counter-terror effort and this stability effort in South Asia, can sign up,” he said seeking to allay Pakistan’s concern of being excluded.