'We have contributed to our Afghanistan brothers much more than India'
Describing Afghanistan as a sovereign country that has a right to have bilateral relations with any nation that it chooses, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Quraishi has said that Islamabad cannot hold a grudge against Kabul for having ties with New Delhi.
"India has contributed in financial terms to the advancement of Afghanistan's reconstruction and I cannot stop that. But we have to draw a qualitative distinction between Pakistan's role and India's role in Afghanistan. Their role cannot be the same as Pakistan. As Pakistan, we feel that we have contributed to our Afghanistan brothers much more than India," Quraishi told the Gulf News.
Image: A soldier is assisted past his burning armoured vehicle after it struck an IED in Arghandab Valley, Afghanistan
Photographs: Bob Strong/Reuters
'We share a long border, common religion -- but India does not'
Image: Afghan women walk past a US military vehicle of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Siavashan village near Herat
Photographs: Morteza Nikoubazl/Reuters
'Pakistan suffers while India is far away'
He further said, "Pakistan has paid a huge price for Afghanistan in human and economic terms and Pakistan is their best bet for a solution. If things improve in Afghanistan, Pakistan will benefit from it but if things deteriorate in Afghanistan, Pakistan suffers while India is far away. We are facing suicide bombings and killings due to the Afghan war."
Asked whether he desired a bigger role for Pakistan in Afghanistan, Quraishi said, "We are not asking for any role. We did not play any role in the presidential and parliamentary elections. We are playing a role in facilitation and not telling them what to do."
Image: Afghan boys look at Bollywood movie posters
Photographs: Omar Sobhani/Reuters
'There is no military solution'
He also held out hope that the current political set-up in Afghanistan will be able to improve the situation in the country, once the United States-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's forces start withdrawing from the region from July 2011.
"Yes, our view is that there is no military solution. It requires a political situation and we need political reconciliation in Afghanistan, and that is why Pakistan is supportive of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation," he said.
Image: A newly graduated soldier from the Afghan National Army attends a graduation ceremony in Kabul
Photographs: Ahmad Masood/Reuters