ICRC official praises Indian efforts in Afghanistan (Exclusive Interview to ANI)

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New Delhi, Oct.7 (ANI): The chief of an International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) delegation in Afghanistan, Reto Stocker who is in Delhi on a brief visit has hailed India's humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan.

Talking exclusively to ANI-TV, Stocker said " I am very happy to see that Indian commitment is very big and is hitting at the right places".

"India is well known not just for investments in the health sector which i.e. in hospitals and primary health care but is also working on very important sector like water and electricity programmes, Indian efforts in the road sector is very much appreciated by Afghans from all walks of life," Stocker added.

An apolitical organization, the ICRC is presently running one of the biggest operations in Afghanistan and has been present in the war-ravaged country for the past 24 years. It has worked with many ruling regimes, including the Taliban.

The ICRC is known for its close contacts with all parties involved the regional conflict.

Stocker's appreciation of Indian efforts in Afghanistan assume significance in the wake of NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal's recent report in which he said that while Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, the increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani counter-measures in Afghanistan or India.

Pakistan is also consistently alleging Indian spy agencies for fomenting trouble in restive Balochistan province through its consulates by funneling money and weapons. In fact this issue also figured in the Indo-Pak joint declaration issued by Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan at Sharm-al-Sheikh, Egypt, earlier this year.

India has denied all accusations by Pakistan and has maintained that these consulates are in Afghanistan since 1950's. ANI has learnt that the US is pressurizing India to scale down its humanitarian efforts in Afghanistan.

Expressing concern over the intensification of conflict in Afghanistan, Stocker termed the security situation in Afghanistan as grim. He further said that his organization is facing its toughest logistical problem in the last thirty years.

Stocker believes that talks with the Taliban are important enough to influence how far or how deep the hostilities will run.

"If the ICRC has given into the language of the good guys and the bad guys, you can't talk," he said.

"Our activities in Afghanistan would have probably seized in early eighties, remember the conflict, you have various Mujahideen groups , you had militants , Afghan government , you had vey strong Soviet influence, the ICRC continuously had discussions with all of them," added Stocker.

The US has been saying that reconciliation with Taliban is important, whereas India is against any talks with militants. India firmly believes there is no distinction between good Taliban and bad Taliban. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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