Pakistan's economic future will mainly depend on its peaceful relationship with India, US Deputy Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter said here today. "We (India and the US) talked about Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is new government in Islamabad and one thing I learnt there (in Pakistan) it gives high priority to economic development. Fundamentally, Pakistan's future economically depends on its peaceful relations with India," he said.
The American defence official was asked if the situation in Af-Pak region was discussed during his talks with Indian officials and whether concern was voiced over Islamabad's failure to deliver on the terrorism front. He said Pakistan faced major security threat from within in the form of terrorism and it did not have any security issues from its neighbours. Carter said Pakistan also had a major role to play in Afghanistan's internal security and stability which would also help it economically by providing trade routes to the Central Asian region.
On whether the recent friction on the Line of Control between India and Pakistan was a matter of concern for the US, Carter said the issue was a bilateral one and the US was interested in the two countries having good ties between them. Asked to comment on the situation in Afghanistan where the American forces would start pulling out in 2014, he said the Afghan forces were taking leads in security operations in that country and are succeeding also. "Afghan forces are succeeding. They are taking losses because they are operating independently for the first time. Afghans are taking the lead and they are successful. It is not correct that we are leaving Afghanistan," Carter said.
The American defence official said the US will have an enduring presence in Afghanistan for many years and a bilateral security agreement was expected to be signed between the two countries in next few weeks in this regard. Carter said the US forces there have excess equipment and a lot of countries have shown interest in taking it. American officials said India has not shown any interest in procuring the second-hand defence equipment left there.