New Delhi, Feb. 27 (PTI and Reuters): The Bharatiya Janata Party said Wednesday the government must put pressure on Washington and get the new US defence secretary withdraw “unconditionally” a statement he had made in 2011 blaming India for creating trouble for Pakistan in Afghanistan.
Chuck Hagel, who was confirmed as the new defence secretary by the Senate on Tuesday night, had said that India has financed problems for Pakistan in Afghanistan. Hagel had made the remarks during a speech at Oklahoma's Cameron University in 2011, which has surfaced now.
BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said Hagel’s statement is “outlandish, bizarre and baseless.”
Rudy also expressed surprise over Hagel giving a clean to Pakistan, which has harboured in the backyard of its military base al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, who was responsible for killing of more than 5000 Americans in the World Trade Centre attack.
“BJP is concerned at the indifference of the Indian government by not reacting to Hagel. BJP demands that Government of India uses its diplomatic pressure to see that Mr Chuck Hagel retracts his statement unconditionally,” Rudy said.
Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, had said: “India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border.”
His remarks are considered in sharp contrast to viewpoint of Obama Administration, which has always been in praise of India's developmental role in Afghanistan and in fact has been pressing New Delhi to do more in Afghanistan.
Reacting to this, the Indian Embassy in Washington had said, “Such comments attributed to Senator Hagel, who has been a long-standing friend of India and a prominent votary of close India-US relations, are contrary to the reality of India's unbounded dedication to the welfare of Afghan people”.
Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said Hagel would be sworn in to succeed him on Wednesday morning.