US in touch to use India as staging ground for strikes in Afghanistan: Antony Blinken

US in touch to use India as staging ground for strikes in Afghanistan: Antony Blinken

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 14

The US is in touch with India on using it as a staging post for aerial strikes in Afghanistan, while it will reassess its relationship with Pakistan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on the pullout from Afghanistan.

Binken’s comments come days before PM Narendra Modi will meet US President Joe Biden on September 24 at the Quad Summit, possibly followed by a bilateral interaction.

“I’m talking Northwest India as a potential because, Qatar, and Doha, are just a little bit too far,’’ said Blinken when asked at the hearing by Congressman Mark Green whether the US has reached out to India as a possible staging area for aerial strikes on any terrorist haven that may crop up in Afghanistan.

Blinken refused to elaborate, observing that, “let me just say generally we’re deeply engaged with India, across the board, with regard to any specifics about over the horizon capabilities and the plans that we put in place.’’

The Pentagon’s last over-the-horizon strike had killed nine civilians instead of a suicide bomber it had thought was heading for the Kabul airport.

Though the world committed over $1 billion instead of the $ 606 million sought by the UN to feed over one crore Afghans, most world leaders, like Blinken, are not convinced the Taliban will fairly distribute the aid.

While the Pakistan envoy to Afghanistan Mansoor Ahmad Khan met Afghan acting Foreign Minister Mawlavi Amir Khan Muttaqi in Kabul on Tuesday, Blinken called on Pakistan to deny legitimacy to the Taliban unless they meet international demands.

Muttaqi, on the other hand, made several reassuring statements while insisting that aid should be delivered to the Afghan dispensation which would ensure full transparency in its disbursement.