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Posted by wmmbb in CENTRAL ASIA, Humankind/Planet Earth.

The reaction of Pakistan to Hamid Karzai’s signing of a strategic partnership with India was to be expected.

Andrew Buncombe, writing in The Independent reports:

With an eye to 2014, when US forces are due to leave his country and Afghan forces will supposedly be entirely responsible for security, Mr Karzai is desperately trying to walk a fine line of not angering potential allies. The security agreement with India is one of several that might emerge, with similar deals with the US and the EU also being discussed. But Mr Karzai knows that the arrangement with Delhi will cause genuine angst for Pakistan. India has already invested more than £1.3bn in infrastructure projects in Afghanistan and is seeking to increase its own regional influence and reduce that of Pakistan. A small number of Indian troops are present, guarding infrastructure projects. And the training of Afghan officers has already gone ahead.

Pakistan is highly sensitive about India’s activities in Afghanistan, frequently questioning Delhi’s motives. The agreement of greater security cooperation, especially if it means increased numbers of Indian troops in Afghanistan even in a training role, will likely prove to be deeply provocative. One Pakistani official said yesterday he believed that on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the angriest, Islamabad was at a six.

Mindful of this, Mr Karzai’s vision for progress in the region involved a key role for Pakistan, even at a time when the country’s military has been under fire for its alleged links to the Haqqani militant network. Unlike David Cameron and Barack Obama when their feet were on Indian soil – and their minds were on securing business deals and investment – he pointedly avoided accusing Pakistan of failing to do enough to tackle terrorism.

Rather, he said that having decided to postpone talks with the Taliban in the aftermath of Mr Rabbani’s murder, Afghanistan had opted to increase its engagement with Pakistan. “We have now decided not to talk to the Taliban because we don’t know their address. When we find them, we will talk to them,” said Mr Karzai, a reference to how Mr Rabbani had been killed by someone purporting to represent the Taliban in peace talks. “The peace process will now be focused more on relations between countries … than on individuals we cannot find.”

In the past, there have been questions raised about Mr Karzai’s balance of mind, but this gesture seems to be a formula for the continuation of the civil war, even if and when the foreign contingents leave, a departure long overdue however doubtful in effect.

Afghanistan is also facing “the worst drought for a decade“, affecting two to three million people. The personal stories are moving. As in Somali conflicts, and external interventions continue regardless.



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