Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Afghanistan-India pact doesn’t concern just Pakistanis; Afghans wonder, too

By Shashank Bengali | McClatchy Newspapers, October 25, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan — At first blush, the wide-ranging “strategic partnership” that Afghanistan signed with India this month would seem only logical: South Asia’s economic heavyweight cementing its longstanding political, cultural and trade ties with the region’s neediest nation.

But this is Afghanistan, and nothing is that simple.

The deal, which included a plan for Indian training of Afghan security forces, immediately angered neighboring Pakistan, India’s blood enemy. But many Afghans also were left concerned, wondering whether Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in agreeing to the accord, wasn’t merely provoking Pakistan — the country with which Afghanistan shares its longest border, the source of some 80 percent of Afghan consumer goods, the main supply line for U.S.-led NATO forces and the linchpin of efforts to negotiate peace with the Taliban and other Afghan insurgents.

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