'Keeping India out, far greater Pak priority than supporting US' Afghan goals'

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Washington, July 16 (ANI): Pakistan might claim that it shares the goals of the United States in eliminating the Taliban and Al-Qaeda and stabilizing Afghanistan, but its prime objective remains minimizing the influence of arch rivals-India in the war torn nation, an expert has said.

"While Pakistanis will say they share the U.S. goal, "that's a way, way lower priority for them and they're willing to put up with a lot" from groups like the Taliban to keep India out," opines Teresita Schaffer, Director of the South Asia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would be stopping over to Pakistan later this week before visiting Afghanistan, where she would be participating in a donor's conference.

During her visit, Clinton is likely to press both Islamabad and Kabul to step up efforts against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

She is also likely to discuss the reconciliation efforts being worked upon by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and backed by Pakistan.

However, the Obama administration is skeptical over Pakistan's role in the reconciliation process and considers it as 'ambiguous', which was evident from Richard Holbrooke's, President Obama's Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Speaking before Committee, Holbrooke said Washington wants to know more about Islamabad's role in Karzai's endeavour to bring peace in the war torn region.

"Pakistan's role in reconciliation is ambiguous and opaque at this point. It is something that we want to learn more about. Remember, we're talking about reconciliation in Afghanistan not Pakistan's own relationships," Holbrooke said.

He also made it clear that the United States would never seek reconciliation with Al-Qaeda's ally- Haqqani network, which is believed to enjoy the backing of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). (ANI)

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