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US needs to make India a strong ally, says Sunil Mittal

March 18, 2009 11:55 IST

Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman and group CEO of Bharti Enterprises and former president of the Confederation of Indian Industry, said  on Tuesday that it was time for the United States to change its position towards India vis-a-vis Pakistan.

Addressing a panel at the Asia Society in New York on the need for greater Indo-US relations, Mittal said that India currently surrounded by conflicts in its region. 'The situation in Pakistan is getting hugely alarming for us. We had General Musharraf (former Pakistan President) visiting India last week and I really did not get any hope (of improved Indo-Pak relations) from what he said,' Mittal said in a marked departure from business talks.

'America has a huge role to play there. The obsession that Pakistan has with India needs to be torn down and only the US can help (do that) because Pakistan thankfully still listens to the US,' Mittal said.

'They (Islamabad) are trapped in their mindset that India is bad and that India is not good for Pakistan, but they are not willing to wake up to the new reality that Pakistan does not matter for India.
'Pakistan is too small for India in terms of economy and in terms of trade. But if Pakistan is torn apart, it is not good for India. We want a stable Pakistan, we want a stable Afghanistan,' Mittal said.

Noting that its

is important for New Delhi to see that part of the world stabilized, Mittal said that Bangladesh had a recent mutiny in its military ranks while Sri Lanka remains big problem even though the last bastions of the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam are being felled, and Myanmar remains a conflict areas and the situation in Nepal does not look bright.

'If you look at India and its neighbors, we are living in a very difficult environment.  It is time now for the US to change its position …  and take India to the next level and thankfully the hyphenation between India and  Pakistan has gone now which was  an irritant for many decades,' Mittal said.

'You need to adopt India which is one of your strongest allies in that part of the world that will take care of many of the issues that US is forced to look at these days,' Mittal said.

Mittal said India's relationship with the Middle East and the Arab world is very strong and he believes that India can have a leading role in overcoming problems in that region. 'We are continuously going to manage issues with our neighbors like Pakistan. After all, conflicts and terrorism impact economy and investments at the end of the day, and we do not want that. I remain very optimistic. We have had a very rough patch in the world economy but we will be able to overcome that. We need partnerships,' Mittal said.

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York