Delhi to Islamabad, via Kabul
Image Credit: REUTERS/ Parwiz

Delhi to Islamabad, via Kabul

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The terrorist attack on August 3 outside the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, eastern Afghanistan, has huge implications for India-Pakistan relations. Knowledgeable Afghans and Indian government officials suspect that the suicide bombers who tried to storm the Indian consulate were Pakistani nationals or abetted by Pakistani intelligence agencies. The bloody turf war between South Asia’s old rivals for influence over the gateway to Central Asia is well and truly undiminished.

It is worth remembering that the same Indian consulate in Jalalabad had been attacked previously in 2007, while the Indian embassy in Kabul has been rocked twice by daring jihadist strikes in 2008 and 2009. The fact that India did not lose any of its citizens in the latest outrage at Jalalabad shows that some of the lessons in security and protocol it has adopted in Afghanistan are working. But this does not take away from the larger problem that Afghanistan is now a core issue that bedevils India-Pakistan ties.

Most conventional analyses of India-Pakistan tensions focus on direct bilateral concerns like territorial claims, water sharing, cross-border violence and the separatist aspirations of populations in disputed lands. The brutality of the armed forces on the Line of Control and the futility of bringing perpetrators of the 26/11 terrorist attacks in Mumbai stand out as particularly troublesome aspects.

But the attack in Jalalabad, a traditional hunting ground for jihadist groups allied with elements of the Pakistani state, reveals that a final settlement between New Delhi and Islamabad has no option but to travel via the detour of Kabul.

I recently spoke with the Pakistani High Commissioner to India, Salman Bashir, on the Afghanistan factor in the state of current relations between the two countries. Mr. Bashir was categorical that Pakistan would not be opposed to extending the range of dialogue with India beyond the bilateral frame and moving into broader terrain about regional geopolitical tussles that have colored the historical animus between the two nations.

On Afghanistan, Bashir said that he did not think India and Pakistan were locked in any fundamental clash of interests. Rather, he reiterated the diplomatic stance that Islamabad wants to see the same end result in Afghanistan as New Delhi, viz. a national reconciliation and end to the war via an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. “We do not believe that foreign intervention can ever stabilize Afghanistan or lead it to peace,” he added.

For a land that has suffered historically due to foreign interventions, the idea of all big foreign players backing off and allowing Afghans to determine their own fates is an attractive one. Abstractly speaking, it does also bind New Delhi and Islamabad and places them on the same page. But going from a statement of generic, in-principle, agreement to walking the talk and implementing foreign policies that are genuinely non-interventionist in Afghanistan is an entirely different proposition.

In the Pakistani narrative, India is proliferating consulates all over Afghanistan with a view to counter and weaken Islamabad’s commanding presence in that country. Islamabad also alleges that New Delhi is using Indian diplomatic missions in Afghanistan to finance and arm anti-Pakistan separatist rebels of Balochistan (which borders south-eastern Afghanistan). The indisputable fact that India has some military and intelligence assets operating under cover in Afghanistan feeds into Pakistani phobias that India has a larger vested agenda in that country to geopolitically flank and hem in Pakistan from both sides of its borders.

Comments
4
Jefferson G.Togba
August 9, 2013 at 01:04

The Journal just read show that Pakistan and India are both using invisible Hand Theory and Attitude that is,the two countries are having shared and similar interest in Afghanstan and strategist strategy plan.The two must identity their individual state interest and role each wants to play to restore  law, dignity,order,peaceful telerance to coexist as their attitude isn't in the best interest of Region peace.Citizens of the two countries have the moral and legal rights to free trade toexchange of common transactions co-existance and interact without fear of being kill simply because politicians will never and ever speak their truth intention.We also noticed that in the midst of all these unbearable circumstances that have emerged over the periods,the ordinary victims are not the one who cause any of these problems or rift to continue but major actors of policy makers.Pakistani authority must not use sentiment always to destroy lives and properties.the South-Eastern asia Organization must act now and then to speak out as an international actor and regional body to avoid bloodly blood share as the challenge is now then tomorrow's problems that will create war and pouring in of Pakistani Regugee in other parts of the region.A thousand confernces on reconciliation for peace building now is beneficiary all then a Billion worth of resources and peace talk on re-building any of these states will be meaningless for re-construction.

This is clear evident of Pakistan's evil to by this quote from journal " Most Afghans of all ethnic backgrounds believe that Pakistan has sway over the Taliban unlike no other international actor, and many oppose what they perceive as Islamabad’s manipulation of jihadist proxies that leave Afghanistan boiling. Opposition to India’s diplomatic presence and infrastructural investments in Afghanistan, on the other hand, is not prevalent among ordinary Afghans or the Afghan state establishment." On these and other basis the region needs to stand up to Pakistan and say the plain hard true to save the Region.

Gk
August 8, 2013 at 22:09

Pakistan is a BiIG headache . Just ask anyone in the world including Afghanistan !!!!!!!!.

Girish
August 8, 2013 at 20:51

@kanes

We can see growth of Islamic terrorism in Chinese province close to Pakistan were as per Chinese government, the links can clearly found with Pakistan based ( if not Pakistan sponsored). So do you wish to consider that some settlements are to be done regarding the province?
Well India will fight with the terrorist till terrorism will end. Even it take the end of Pakistan. Infact India just hv to wait and watch, Pakistan will perish with its own actioni and terrorism that it has created for others.
Today there is a bomb attack every day in Pakistan.

Kanes
August 8, 2013 at 13:26

We should look at the big picture.

Kashmir is certainly part and parcel of this problem. Without a resolution to the Kashmir problem, there is no incentive to resolve it.

 

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