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Krishna to focus on Afghan transition

world Updated: Jan 09, 2011 00:32 IST
Jayanth Jacob
Jayanth Jacob
Hindustan Times
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As external affairs minister, SM Krishna arrived to Kabul for a two-day visit on Saturday, a high-level Afghan delegation concluded talks with Pakistani leadership on Taliban re-integration.

The two events symbolised the primary concern New Delhi has about present day developments in Afghanistan. New Delhi wants to ensure any mainstreaming of the Taliban remains Afghan-led rather than Pakistan-brokered.

Krishna, while iterating India's full support for the Karzai regime, will also explore how Kabul sees the recent US review of war on Afghanistan, and what it believes is in store if the US begins a partial withdrawal from July.

Arriving to a red carpet welcome in a heavily fortified Kabul airport, Krishna said "I look forward to detailed consultations with the leadership of Afghanistan on further broadening and deepening our bilateral relationship."

The minister said "as a neighbour and partner of Afghanistan, India stands firmly with the government and people of Afghanistan." Taliban re-integration will top the agenda when Krishna begins discussions with the Afghan leadership including President Hamid Karzai, starting tomorrow.

A high-level delegation from Afghanistan's high committee for peace, led by ex-Afghan premier Burhanuddin Rabbani, visited Pakistan this week.

They discussed holding a peace jirga (council) with representatives of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the opening of an Afghan Taliban representative's office in Turkey. The latter is a Karzai's idea designed to facilitate negotiations with the rebels. Rabbani has also held talks with Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Kayani.

"We have maintained that the integration should be an Afghan-led process, and talks should be held with those who abjure violence and abide by the Afghan constitution. They should have nothing to do with the terrorist organizations like the al-Qaeda," said an Indian official.

At Islamabad's insistence, India has not been party to many of these dialogues. New Delhi has played its own cards by keeping in direct touch with various Afghan and regional players. New Delhi understands that Karzai is playing a survival game and this necessitates his reaching out to all and sundry. However, India wants to make it clear it opposes overtures to specific Taliban factions owing allegiance to Pakistan.