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US-Pakistan Tensions Could Harm Regional Security

October 21, 2011

Anjana Pasricha | New Delhi

India has expressed hopes that U.S. differences with Pakistan over Islamabad's alleged support to insurgents will be resolved amicably.

India is concerned about the impact such a rift would have on its security.

Referring to escalating tensions between the United States and Pakistan, India’s Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna has warned that anything which upsets the region will have devastating consequences for the developmental agenda of other countries, particularly India.

Following talks Thursday with France's foreign minister in New Delhi, Krishna told reporters that Washington and Islamabad should sort out their recent differences through a dialogue.

The Indian minister's comments came as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Islamabad and urged Pakistan to deny safe havens to insurgents.

In recent months, a war of words has erupted between the two countries amid U.S. accusations that Pakistan's military spy agency, the ISI, has links to the Haqqani militant network. The al-Qaida-linked group has launched several high profile attacks against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Islamabad denies providing support to the militant network.

Bharat Karnad at New Delhi’s Center for Policy Research says India could be adversely impacted if relations between the Washington and Islamabad further deteriorate.

“If push comes to shove and things get so bad [between Pakistan and the U.S.], then obviously there is going to be some spillover effects on India, in the sense then that the ISI and their Pakistan army controllers might feel they have absolutely nothing to lose because they have so much on their platter, a little added danger of inciting those militant groups to strike at Indian targets and so on would be worth the risk," Karnad said. "That is the kind of thing perhaps what the government of India is worried about.”

India has long accused Pakistan of allowing militant networks which target India to operate from its soil.

But in recent months, there has been a thaw in relations between the longtime South Asian rivals. The neighbors revived their stalled peace dialogue last year and are now trying to work out a trade deal to boost commerce.

Karnad says there is optimism in both countries about the peace dialogue.

“They are on the up and up. Here the government of India is reaching out in very substantive ways and the Pakistani regime is responding. And I don’t think that has in any way been derailed, by anything that is happening between Islamabad and Washington,” he said.

Indian leaders say that peace and stability in Pakistan is necessary not only for India and South Asia, but for the whole world, and have often called on Islamabad to clamp down on militant groups operating from its soil.

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