SM Krishna to fight Pakistan moves to bolster Taliban | delhi | Hindustan Times
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SM Krishna to fight Pakistan moves to bolster Taliban

Reaffirming support to the Hamid Karzai government, while at the same time seeking reassurance that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's recent overtures to the Taliban will not go too far, tops the agenda of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's visit to Kabul that began on Monday. Jayanth Jacob reports.

delhi Updated: Jul 20, 2010 01:28 IST
Jayanth Jacob

Reaffirming support to the Hamid Karzai government, while at the same time seeking reassurance that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's recent overtures to the Taliban will not go too far, tops the agenda of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's visit to Kabul that began on Monday.

Underlying it will be the persistent Indian desire to blunt Pakistani hopes of asserting political control over Afghanistan.

Krishna will be joining representatives from 60 other governments at Tuesday's international conference on Afghanistan. The conference will outline steps towards an "Afghan-led era of peace, justice and equitable development".

"We support any process that is Afghan-led and Afghan-driven," said an Indian official. New Delhi's view is that any genuinely independent Kabul regime will, by definition, not let itself be dictated to by Islamabad.

Krishna is expected to meet US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who is also attending the conference, and efforts are on to have a meeting on the sidelines with Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi too.

But while the two South Asian countries are wary of each other's influence in Afghanistan, they will take pains not to make this apparent in Kabul, specially after the less than successful meeting between foreign ministers' Krishna and Qureshi in Islamabad last week.

India has been battling against Pakistan-driven efforts to persuade the international community to reintegrate the Taliban into the Kabul government.

According to sources, the Karzai government will announce a blueprint for a reintegration process at the conference that envisages some 36,000 ex-Taliban associates and fringe groups from across the country being brought into the mainstream.

"The blueprint will be about the reintegration, how the Afghans will gradually, and eventually take control of their all affairs," said an official.

"But people coming to the mainstream should be those who abide by the Afghanistan constitution and abandoned violence," he added, reflecting India's apprehensions.

India has already ensured that unlike last year's London conference where the United Kingdom (UK) and Pakistan sought reintegration of Talibani elements without attaching any pre-conditions, the Kabul draft communiqué uses language that will make it difficult for Pakistani backed militants such as Sirajuddin Haqqani to be rehabilitated.

The draft says rehabilitation would only be open to senior Taliban leaders "not implicated in acts of terrorism targeting the international community or the Afghan public.