'Radical forces can reclaim Afghanistan after US pull out'

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Washington, May 31: India has voiced fears that Islamic radicals might drive back to power in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US-led international forces and has called for greater coordination with Washington over the developments in the war-torn country. Ahead of the annual high-level dialogue with the US, the Indian Ambassador here, Nirupama Rao, said: "Consultations between the two countries must be strengthened."

Addressing a select group at Atlantic Council, a Washington-based eminent Indian think tank, Rao said that New Delhi and Washington had been holding talks on a 'stable , democratic and prosperous Afghanistan'. "For us in the region, given the history of events in Afghanistan and the fact that Taliban forces and radical groups in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan and given their activity, one is worried, one is concerned about what the situation would be once the US withdraws from that country," the Indian Ambassador said.

"We understand that after ten long years of war, there is a manifest and genuine desire to seek an end to conflict. But equally, we must ensure that the enormous sacrifices and efforts of the past decade have not been in vain," she said. "Given the history of the last few decades in Afghanistan and the tide of extremism and radicalism that has swept across that country to the great detriment of its men, women and children, one cannot but help be concerned about what the future holds for that country after the NATO pullout," Rao said while responding to questions from the audience.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Yashwant Sinha, who was also present on the occasion, feared that Pakistan, for its own geopolitical reasons, might want to encourage Taliban to again take over Afghanistan. "As far as withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, I would say that this is an exercise that has to be undertaken with greatest degree of caution," he said.

PTI

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