Pakistan’s concerns over India’s presence in Afghanistan are exaggerated but “not groundless”, US Special Representative James Dobbins told the BBC in an interview.
However, Dobbins said the Indian presence in Afghan cities was minuscule and it was “perfectly reasonable” because of their economic and cultural ties.
The special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who has recently returned from a trip to Islamabad along with the Secretary of State John Kerry, noted that Islamabad was also concerned about the issue of “cross-border militancy”.
“The dominant infiltration of militants is from Pakistan into Afghanistan, but we recognise that there is some infiltration of hostile militants from the other direction as well. So Pakistan’s concerns aren’t groundless… They are simply, in our judgement, somewhat exaggerated,” Dobbins said, according to the British broadcasting service.
In the past, US officials have expressed such sentiments in private, but this is the first time that a diplomat has said it openly.
Kabul has often blamed Pakistan-backed militants for violence in Afghanistan, the BBC report said.
Dobbins said the issue had been discussed at great length with Pakistan.
“We do remain concerned about the relative freedom with which Afghan insurgents can operate out of Pakistan,” he said.
“We believe that Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US need to collaborate much more closely to deal with this threat of cross-border infiltration.”
He said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was “quite warm” to the idea of talking to the Taliban and had asked Pakistan to facilitate contact between the Afghan High Peace Council and the insurgents.
According to BBC, the US diplomat said he hoped that the talks could begin within the next three months.