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'We Are Not Against Any Country'

Afghan foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah was a close associate of legendary Tajik fighter Ahmad Shah Masood. A qualified doctor, the soft-spoken Abdullah carries a strong message. He spoke to Outlook in Washington. Excerpts:

'We Are Not Against Any Country'
T. Narayan
'We Are Not Against Any Country'
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553
How do you view Pakistan's role in Afghanistan?
Pakistan is helping us in reconstruction and in some other areas like trade and transit. But in the security area, we hope Pakistan will do more. The fact that they are arresting Al Qaeda is good, but our point is that the Taliban are just as dangerous and are against Pakistan's interest. The problem is that they deny Taliban are there. They ask us for evidence. Just the fact they ask us for evidence, you won't be encouraged. The changes inside Afghanistan are positive and not against any country. This realisation will help the situation. We want and expect a better realisation from friends.

Why does Pakistan view India's role in Afghanistan with suspicion?
It is very unfortunate. We want good relations with all our neighbours. India is helping us a great deal and it has a legitimate interest in the region. A stable Afghanistan is in India's interest. But we keep hearing irrelevant things from Pakistan about Indian activities. Indian consulates are functioning within the boundaries of consulate activity. There is no reason to believe otherwise. India has not tried to bring the problem it has with Pakistan to Afghanistan. There is no such evidence. It is frustrating when one country can't accept Afghanistan's relations with another country. Hypothetically speaking, if India asks us to fight against Pakistan in Kashmir, we won't do it and vice versa. And India won't ask for such a thing. We will not be a party to this conflict between two major countries in our region.

Pakistan occupied Afghan territory through Kargil-type incursions. How serious was the situation?
I think anything you can call an incursion is important and serious. There isn't such a thing as an unimportant incursion. I can't give you details but let me say we raised it in the trilateral meeting (with Pakistan and US) where security matters are discussed. The US has an interest in seeing improvement in the ground situation.

Pakistan says your government doesn't have adequate Pashtoon representation and unless the Pashtoons are given their due, peace will be elusive. Is this a problem?
The Pashtoon question is not a debate for our neighbours. It is an issue of representation of our own people. No one should try to distract from the main issue—the security problem that exists in Afghanistan. When a Talib kills an aid worker on the street, it is not an issue of representation in the country. The issue is being deliberately mixed up. Sometimes, it is a campaign of disinformation. The Taliban are not for Pashtoon rights or anyone else's rights but for the extremist agenda closest to their heart. The problem then was terrorism against the people of Afghanistan. The problem today is terrorism against Afghans.

How do you interpret the US position on the Afghan-Pak problems?
The US has different relations with different countries. They understand we need cooperation from all countries in the region. They know there is a certain inflexibility in Pakistani position.
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