Afghanistan Region

Tense Indo-Pak Ties a matter of Concern; Iraq war a mistake, says Richard Boucher

In a recent interview, Former Assistant Secretary of State of United States of America Richard A Boucher has said that deteriorating relations between two nuclear states Pakistan and India is the matter of concern for the whole world. He said that his country has always tried to moderate constructive dialogues between both the neighbours. He expressed these views in a recent interview.

Boucher gave a detailed interview touching upon various issues ranging from South Asia politics, to current situation in the Middle East.

Boucher further said that although US wants good ties between India and Pakistan, it doesn’t mean that USA put itself in the middle.  According to him, USA is trying to maintain good relations with both countries simultaneously.   On Pakistan and USA relations, Boucher said that both the countries have always had rocky relationships as both have different interests. Both countries have common interests too, like building successful and modern Pakistan. Other common interests are peace and stability in the region including Afghanistan and reducing Indo-Pak tension. There are plenty of grounds for the improvements and dialogue to identity specific areas where both sides would have to move forward.

He said that USA hoped that Pakistan succeeds in the development of tribal and border areas of Pakistan, and the US can better work in this connection and help Pakistan for successes. On his earlier statement in 2007 that Pakistan army needed reforms, Boucher said that: “We all need reforms, I really not kept up that what is going now in Army and intelligence agencies and don’t want to say specifics” he said.

He said that still, there are some divisions in civilians and military in Pakistan. Everybody in the society needs to work on civilian- military relations that how they can work each-other and how they set common goals. Because, sometimes there is an impression that everybody not pushing in same direction.

On the question about India and some western elements including USA are against the CPEC project, he said, “I don’t think that it is true, certainly not from US side, I don’t speak for the American government. But, all Americans from different agencies, backgrounds and think tanks are saying that CPEC is good for Pakistan and the region”.

On failure of military option in Afghanistan, Boucher said that military option is the part of the solution in Afghanistan. Afghan government should also become strong enough to control its territory and has the capability to maintain peace and security for its people. At the same time Afghan government should be have capable for delivering, justice, services, water, health, education and other facilities to its people. Perhaps, US put too much emphasis on military and not enough extended to civilian government of Afghanistan for building up capability. Now, there is difficult movement.

On failure of Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) and Russian new initiative on Afghanistan, Boucher said that he was sceptical of such initiatives, as smaller initiatives were more effective in such situations. He further argued that both Afghanistan and Pakistan should take steps to improve their internal social and economic situations. On his perception of Pakistani political leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Imran Khan, he said that Pakistani politics always remained interesting.

On US interference in Pakistani political affairs, he did not believe it was entirely true. He though that perhaps some people did it in the entire history of USA-Pakistan relations history. He further said that despite the horrific assassination and tragic loss of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan succeeded in transitioning from military to democracy.

Boucher also believed that the decision of invasion of Iraq in 2003 by then American President George W. Bush was a bad move, and that the people in the Middle East need to decide the type of governments they want in future.

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