India and China have decided to back Hamid Karzai regime and are prepared to work towards the stability of Afghanistan after the US pulls out in 2014. But differences have cropped up in perceptions over the long-term roles of Pakistan, Taliban and Washington in that region. While China is bothered about the United States' role in Afghanistan, India sees both Pakistan and Taliban as forces of instability in that region.
During the first India-China official meeting on Afghanistan in Beijing last Thursday, both countries exchanged their respective positions on the restive nation and their concern over US forces pulling out next year While there was agreement in theoretical positions in the first-ever exchange, Beijing felt that engagement with Pakistan and reconciliation with the ultra conservative Taliban was vital to long term stability of the trouble-torn nation.
Official sources said India's concern, however, was Pakistan and the terror groups based in that country using Afghanistan for strategic depth after US pulls out. It was evident from the meeting that if Pakistan and Taliban were a big worry for India, then possibility of some 20,000 US troops remaining in Afghanistan for special operations after the pull-put was bothering Beijing.
However, both countries felt that there was a need to support the Hamid Karzai regime for the present or else there could be chaos post 2014 pull-out which can have an impact across the Wakhan corridor in restive Xinjiang and Jammu and Kashmir. "It is not that Beijing does not understand the role of Pakistan-based groups like Haqqani network and Lashkar-e-Toiba in destabilising the region, but China believes that its interests are best protected by dealing with Islamabad," said a senior official.
In a meet on counter-terrorism earlier this month India and China discussed the role of Pakistan-based terror groups. While Beijing is concerned over the spread of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in Central Asia and East Turkestan Islamic Movement in restive Xinjiang province it is willing to overlook the fact that the roots of the separatist Uighur movement are based in the Af-Pak region.
Although the Chinese officials discussed jihadist terror and cyber terrorism in that meet, they surprised the Indian officials by expressing concern over the threat from Dalai Lama supporters to Tibet.
The Indian delegation, which had representation from the Intelligence, gave out the details of how the Pakistan-based terror groups, like Lashkar-e-Toiba in particular, were a serious threat to the region, including Afghanistan. But Beijing did not utter a word against its all-weather ally in spite of understanding the seriousness of the challenge.