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Afghanistan - India

Karzai to sign security deals on India visit

Reuters/B Mathur

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is set to strengthen security ties with India and seal deals on energy and mining on a two-day visit to Delhi that started Tuesday. Karzai meets Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as his relations with Pakistan have worsened.


Karzai, who has already visited Delhi once this year, was set to sign a security agreement that will give India a greater role in training Afghan troops ahead of the drawdown of US troops, according to Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

He is also set to accept Indian “help” in exploiting Afghanistan’s large and little-tapped mineral resources.

And the two countries may sign a “strategic partnership”, according to the Indian Express newspaper.

India has ploughed 1.1 billion euros in aid into Afghanistan in its effort to counterbalance Pakistan’s influence in the country.

Karzai last week lashed out at Islamabad for its spy service’s alleged links to the Taliban and the Haqqani network, which he accused of being behind the killing of peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Although he softened his tone in an address on Monday, saying that the two countries are “inseparable brothers”, he also warned against “a double-standard game” and the use of “terrorism” as a foreign policy tool.

His criticism of Islamabad echoed US Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s claim that the Haqqanis had carried out last month’s attack on the US embassy and that they are a “veritable arm” of the ISI spy agency.

The sharper US tone prompted speculation in Pakistan that the US, which has long operated drone attacks on Pakistani territory, was preparing an assault on the network in North Waziristan, where it has been based since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

They also signified frustration at the failure of talks with the insurgents to bear fruit.

But US officials later tempered those remarks and both Washington and Kabul know they cannot write Islamabad out of the Afghan equation.

”They can’t live with us. They can’t live without us,” Pakistani Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani told reporters recently.

New Delhi, which has been in the vanguard of charges that Pakistan manipulates “terrorists”, would like to diplomatically encircle Pakistan and hopes to profit from the latest spats.

But Indian politicians know that Karzai has been further weakened by Rabbani’s assassination and that sectarian divisions are deepening in Afghanistan, so they are obliged to tread a little carefully.

A US regional initiative is to be discussed in Istanbul on 2 November and an international conference to prepare for post-drawdown Afghanistan will be held in Bonn on 5 December.


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