Stay the course

India has come under attack on Afghan soil for the second time in 15 months. A deadly blast outside the Indian Embassy in Kabul has left 17 people dead. Although no embassy staff was killed or injured in the blast, the incident is reason for India to be worried. In July last year, a suicide attack left the embassy building badly damaged and took the lives of several senior embassy staff. Security measures in and around the building had been stepped up in the wake of that attack but these seemed to have provided little protection. The Taliban, which has claimed responsibility for the latest assault, and its backers in Pakistan can be expected to persist with more attacks. They are bitterly opposed to India’s growing presence and influence in Afghanistan. India’s substantial reconstruction work in education, health and infrastructure has struck a chord with the Afghan people and won it considerable support. This has ruffled feathers in Pakistan. It is to intimidate India with a view to forcing its exit from the country that the attacks on the embassy have been carried out.

Pakistan has routinely been demanding the closure of Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad. It maintains that India is stirring trouble in Pakistan from these consulates which are close to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. There is a possibility now of India playing an influential role in anti-Taliban operations. Media reports are hinting on possible cooperation on the ground between US troops and Northern Alliance ‘warlords’ in fighting the Taliban. There is concern in Pakistan that if this strategy materialises, India, whose ties with the Northern Alliance go back over a decade, could train the militia under the ‘warlords’. Pakistan fears that India could end up playing a larger role in the military operations without actually sending its troops. The attack on the Indian embassy must be seen in this context.

It is a matter of concern that Pakistan continues to use terrorism as a foreign policy tool. Islamabad must wake up to the fact that this tool will not intimidate India into changing its goals or approach. The human and economic cost that India is incurring by being present and active in Afghanistan is no doubt rising. But New Delhi must not allow the violence to weaken its resolve to rebuild Afghanistan. It must stay the course, whether or not Pakistan likes it.

Liked the story?

  • 0

    Happy
  • 0

    Amused
  • 0

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 0

    Angry