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    Posted on 03 October 2011

    India will ink strategic pact with Afghanistan ahead of US

    President Hamid Karzai arrives on Tuesday, bilateral agreement under discussion to formalise a training programme for Afghan security officials in Indian academies

    Iftikhar Gilani
    New Delhi

    Afghan president Hamid Karzai is arriving in Delhi on Tuesday

    Amidst deteriorating relations with Pakistan, Afghan president Hamid Karzai is arriving here on Tuesday, scheduled to sign several agreements including a key strategic pact, that possibly involves training of Afghan national army by their Indian counterparts. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh will hold discussions with Karzai and host a dinner in his honour. However, all eyes are on Karzai’s private engagement, a lecture on Wednesday in memory of RK Mishra, founder of Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

    Sources here say, a bilateral agreement was under discussion to formalise a training programme for Afghan security officials in Indian academies. Both countries are already engaged in intelligence sharing and other security exchanges at the level of the national security advisors. Other agreements include forming working groups on issues of economic cooperation and consultations to forge common positions at the UN and other international bodies.

    Significantly, the United States is also negotiating a strategic pact with the Afghan government. Experts believe this agreement may involve securing permanent bases in Afghanistan beyond 2014. They will do special force-style counter-terrorism work and also train the Afghan army.

    Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan have deteriorated in the wake of killing of the former president Burhanudin Rabbani, who as chairman of peace council was negotiating with the Taliban. The Afghan intelligence agency has disclosed that Rabbani’s assassination was planned by the Quetta Shura, based in Pakistan. It has also reportedly handed over evidence to this effect to Pakistan.

    These developments coincide the rising tensions between Pakistan and the United States, over Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s allegations that the Haqqani group is a “veritable arm” of the ISI.

    Security expert Arvind Gupta believes that war in Afghanistan was proving to be unbearably expensive for the US at $120 billion in 2010 alone. The US spends about $10 billion on training the Afghan security forces. Obama has asked for $12 billion in the 2012 budget for training the Afghan security forces.

    At a panel discussion on Indian options in the war-torn country, at the premier defence think-tank Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis (IDSA), experts advised government to resist any temptation for a direct military involvement in the war torn country. They have asked New Delhi to restrict its role in strengthening the Afghan army and police by way of special training programmes. On the political side, India should support genuine indigenous efforts for national unity even as Afghanistan plunges into a full scale civil war.

    The recent killing of Rabbani is believed to the fifth high profile assassination since the killing of Gen. Khan Muhammad Mujahid, the police chief of Kandahar, in April 2011. This was followed by the killing of Gen Daud Daud, a top police commander, in May. Subsequently, Karzai’s half-brother Ahmed Wali Karzai and former governor of Uruzgan province, Jan Muhamamd, were assassinated in July.

    Ashok K Behuria, senior fellow at the IDSA maintains that tall these killings are proof of the Taliban’s confidence. He believes this is a precise reason for Taliban not negotiating at a time, when they were wining the battle of nerves in the war-torn country.

    Iftikhar Gilani is Special Correspondent with Tehelka.com
    [email protected]

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    Posted on 03 October 2011



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