Announcing a new Afghanistan policy, US President Donald Trump on Monday sought a greater role for India in helping rebuild the war-torn country while he slammed Pakistan for offering safe havens to terrorist groups.
"Pakistan often gives safe havens to agents of chaos, violence and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict," Trump said as he highlighted the consequences of Islamabad's support to terrorist groups.
"Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan but has has much to lose by harboring criminals and terrorists. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organisations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to fight terror. Pakistani people have suffered from extremists and terrorists but at the same time Pakistan has been safe haven for terrorists," the US President said in a prime-time televised address to the nation.
Noting that the US gives Pakistan billions of dollars, Trump said it will change if Islamabad continues its support to terrorists.
"They are housing the very terrorists we are fighting," Trump said. "US gives Pakistan billions of dollars. That will have to change and that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harbouring of terrorists.”
Stressing on New Delhi's role in bringing peace to South Asia, Trump said, "We appreciate India's important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development."
India, the world's largest democracy, is a key security and economic partner of the United States, he said.
Although Trump did not indicate much shift in US's policy in Afghanistan, he said it is now time that America stops building a country in its own image,
"We will not tell Afghanistan how to rule its complex country. Afghans will secure and build their own nation, and define their own future. We want them to succeed," he said.
The President said that Afghanistan had to carry the burden in this conflict -- politically, economically and military and the US will continue to provide its support to the government and its military to counter Taliban.
"We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists," he said, adding that US support for Afghanistan was 'not a blank check.'
On military strategy in Afghanistan, Trump did not reveal much and he would not announce dates of military operations in advance.
Trump went on to say America would not discuss troop levels or further plans for military activities, echoing a promise he made on the campaign trail: "I will not say when we are going to attack but attack we will," Trump said.
He, however, emphasised that the war will be to protect American interests only and to defend the US from its enemies abroad.
Ahead of his speech, U.S. officials said they expected the president to go along with a Pentagon recommendation to send nearly 4,000 new troops, boosting the total of 8,400 in Afghanistan now. At its peak, the U.S. had roughly 100,000 there, under the Obama administration in 2010-2011.