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India’s ambassador calls for patience in Afghanistan

The Indian government wants the United States to "stay the course" in Afghanistan, New Delhi’s ambassador to Washington said Monday evening. Speaking at a meeting of the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think tank, Indian Ambassador H.E. Meera Shankar said the Indian government would not favor a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, despite recent ...

The Indian government wants the United States to "stay the course" in Afghanistan, New Delhi's ambassador to Washington said Monday evening.

Speaking at a meeting of the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think tank, Indian Ambassador H.E. Meera Shankar said the Indian government would not favor a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, despite recent trepidations expressed by senior U.S. Democratic lawmakers.

"We believe that peace, stability, and security in this region will require a sustained U.S. commitment and will not in a short time come to pass," she said. "We do think that the imperative to stay the course is strong and we would hope that this is something which the U.S. would find a way to accept."

The Indian government wants the United States to "stay the course" in Afghanistan, New Delhi’s ambassador to Washington said Monday evening.

Speaking at a meeting of the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think tank, Indian Ambassador H.E. Meera Shankar said the Indian government would not favor a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, despite recent trepidations expressed by senior U.S. Democratic lawmakers.

"We believe that peace, stability, and security in this region will require a sustained U.S. commitment and will not in a short time come to pass," she said. "We do think that the imperative to stay the course is strong and we would hope that this is something which the U.S. would find a way to accept."

Shankar also called on the U.S. government to make changes to the character and oversight of U.S. military assistance to Pakistan, in light of recent claims by former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that he diverted U.S. aid meant to fight extremists to Pakistan’s Indian front.

Although India supports the economic and development aid given to Pakistan, "We do feel that in the security field, the assistance should be more tightly focused on building counterinsurgency capabilities rather than conventional defense equipment, which can be diverted for other purposes," said Shankar, adding that there may be a need for greater accountability for how the funds are spent.

She also criticized the Pakistani government for what she sees as its slow-walking of the investigation and trials of suspects in the November terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Pointing out that the India-based trial for one of the alleged perpetrators is already well underway, she said that "Pakistan has yet to bring those responsible for the Mumbai attacks to trial."

"We would like more vigorous investigation of people who might have been responsible for the terrorist attacks and who at present have not been apprehended, including several key leaders," she added.

On the topic of climate change, Shankar addressed differences over the issue that were highlighted during U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton‘s July visit to New Delhi. According to reports, Indian officials told Clinton during that visit that India would not accept limits on carbon emissions, complicating the Obama administration’s effort to secure an effective worldwide climate-change accord.

Looking ahead to December’s U.N. climate-change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Shanker said that due to India’s rapid growth and sparse energy availability, "absolute reductions in emissions may become very challenging and perhaps impossible."

But she added that India could be guided by the declaration that came out of the July major-economies meeting in L’Aquila, Italy, which said that developing countries could alter their emissions in a way that represents a "meaningful deviation from business as usual."

"That provides a more realistic basis to move ahead and represents the consensus that could be forged at the end of that [next] meeting of major economies on climate change [in Copenhagen]," said Shankar.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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