Eye on Afghan endgame, PM plans trip to Kabul
With Osama bin Laden's killing in Pakistan leaving India nervous about the endgame in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is readying for a short-notice visit to Kabul.delhi Updated: May 07, 2011 22:49 IST
With Osama bin Laden's killing in Pakistan leaving India nervous about the endgame in Afghanistan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is readying for a short-notice visit to Kabul.
Sources indicated that the trip may take place as early as next week, considering that is the "immediate window" available as the PM will be leaving for Ethiopia and Tanzania from May 23.
The Indian mission in Afghanistan has been intimated that they should be ready for the visit in "48-hour notice" at best. Also, visas for the 20-member media contingent traveling with the Prime Minister have been obtained.
"Considering the security situation, we haven't taken a final call on the timing. It could be next week, and if it doesn't come through, then the trip will certainly be in the first-half of the year," official sources said.
Though Singh has been planning the visit to Afghanistan for sometime now, the recent developments there as well as the killing of Bin Laden have "brought a sense of immediacy to the whole thing", sources explained.
Singh's last visit to Afghanistan was in 2005. With $1.2 billion in aid, India is one of the biggest donors for the reconstruction of that country.
Post-bin Laden, New Delhi has set its nervous eyes on the endgame in Afghanistan and the role Pakistan is trying to have in the event of an early withdrawal of the western forces.
Official sources are hopeful of the US not "repeating" the mistake of leaving Afghanistan in a hurry, the way they did after the Soviet exit from that country in the late 1980's. There are serious concerns about "any disproportionate" role Pakistan would have in the Taliban reintegration process.
India offers support to president Hamid Karzai and the people for a "stable, peaceful, prosperous and pluralistic Afghanistan"; it also holds that "the gains the war on terror has brought since 2001 should not be frittered away", sources explained.
India will be keenly watching the developments in Afghanistan that has "direct national security impact" for India.