Kabul attack throws light on Afghan power game

July 7th, 2008 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Taliban
By Manish Chand
New Delhi, July 7 (IANS) The deadly terror attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul Monday has put the spotlight on India’s strategic stake in Afghanistan, with two leading analysts hinting at a Pakistani hand. Two Indian diplomats and two security personnel were among the 44 people killed when a suicide bomber rammed his car into the gate of the embassy. It was the worst attack on any Indian mission in the world.

“There has been a consistent policy of targeting Indians and Indian projects in Afghanistan. It’s no doubt a decision taken by the Taliban. Pakistan is directly or indirectly complicit in the attack,” G. Parthasarathy, a former Indian envoy to Pakistan, told IANS.

“They (Pakistan) have lost their privileged position in Afghanistan after 9/11. They are worried about increasing Indian influence in Kabul,” he stressed.

Ajai Sahni, an expert on terrorism, also felt that the terror attack was “a message from Pakistan to put pressure on Indians and Indian projects in Afghanistan.

“This is quite evident that in the last three years, Border Roads Organisation (BRO) workers engaged in constructing Zaranj-Delaram road, which will reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan, were targeted and some of them were also killed,” Sahni said.

Unlike the 2005 kidnapping of an Indian engineer in 2005, when the government blamed the Taliban and its “backers”, a veiled reference to Pakistan, New Delhi has not blamed anyone for Monday’s bloodshed.

But one government source told IANS that he felt that the Taliban might be acting at the behest of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“The pattern of the bombing and the manner of its execution shows it is the handiwork of the Taliban. But we have to wait,” the source said as an Indian team left for Kabul on a fact-finding mission.

Afghanistan, which has forged close links with India following the 2001 ouster of the Pakistan-backed Taliban regime, blamed “enemies” of Kabul and New Delhi for the mayhem.

President Hamid Karzai said that “enemies” jealous of the strong friendship between Afghanistan and India were to blame. An Afghan interior ministry official echoed this.

Parthasarthy added: “The Indian image is very good in Afghanistan as Indians are involved with educational and other socio-economic projects in that country.”

Sahni said: “Pakistan has a vested interest in fomenting violence and in keeping Afghanistan weak and unstable.”

When the Taliban were in power, Pakistan viewed Afghanistan as its strategic depth vis-

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