India on Tuesday signed three agreements with Afghanistan for a greater strategic partnership — especially in the security and oil sectors — to counter Pakistan and China.
During Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the issues of terrorism and terrorist sanctuaries in the region came up several times.
In Kabul, the Afghanistan government accused Pakistan of stonewalling investigations into the killing of peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani in the Afghan capital on September 20.
“Today, we received a message from the Pakistan embassy, saying that since this issue has arisen in the media, we cannot cooperate and we apologise for that,” said Mohammad Yasin Zia, deputy head of the National Directorate of Security.
With US-Pakistan ties under strain and withdrawal of Nato in sight, Karzai seems in greater need for Indian support. Terming India “a steadfast friend”, he spoke against promoting radicalisation as state policy, making oblique references to Pakistan.
So far, despite its $2-billion commitment, India’s ties with Afghanistan on security — an issue that always irks Pakistan — has remained minimal. Another angle that has been addressed in the MoUs is China’s growing role in the security and oil sectors in Afghanistan. India is striving not to be left behind China, which is working with Afghanistan in the mining and oil sectors, although New Delhi is worried over the security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s refusal to allow transit routes.
Reiterating his vision for economic integration of South Asia, Singh said, “Afghanistan’s economic integration with the Indian economy and South Asia as a whole is in the national interest of the people of Afghanistan.”
with agency inputs