Arch-rivals alert: India/Pakistan, and the Afghan “Medium-sized Game”…
By Tim Foxley
Summary: India offers economic and security aid to Afghanistan, Pakistan offers Taliban. Are these arch-rivals being being constructive or playing out their mutual suspicions…?
Call me a cynic, but is it slightly more than a coincidence that, right at the time when Karzai is sitting down with India to discuss economic and security initiatives from India to assist Afghanistan, the Pakistani government suddenly finds itself able to release ten Taliban prisoners. Attention-seeking, spoiling, showing who is really in charge??
Afghan sources told the BBC the former Taliban justice minister Mullah Turabi and two intelligence officials are among the group to be freed.
One Afghan official described the move as a positive gesture towards peace.
Pakistan says it backs Afghan peace efforts and releasing the prisoners is a tangible step to prove it.
November 12, 2012|Frank Jack Daniel | Reuters
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India will step up training of the Afghan police and military after a request on Monday by President Hamid Karzai, who also urged Indian businesses to invest in his battle-weary nation as it gears up for the departure of NATO troops.
The extra help is likely to be welcomed by the United States, which sees India as a stabilizing power in South Asia. But it may unnerve Pakistan, which frets about losing influence in neighboring Afghanistan.
These were my simplistic thoughts from two years ago. I still think they are valid:
India’s relationship with Afghanistan is usually seen in the context of its more fraught relationship with Pakistan. Its relationship with Afghanistan has been constructive, with Indian economic and trade initiatives with Afghanistan substantial. But India remains keen to thwart Pakistani ambitions in the country. Road, pipeline and transmission line initiatives form part of India’s strategy of “reach around” and across Pakistan and into resource-rich Central Asia. An improving relationship between India and Pakistan remains crucial to the stable development of Afghanistan. It also remains unlikely in the near term.