October 6, 2011

Daily Brief: India, Afghanistan sign strategic pact

From The AfPak Channel by Jennifer Rowland -

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday signed a strategic partnership agreement -- Afghanistan's first such agreement -- which promises Indian training of Afghan security forces, as well as an increase in trade and cultural relations (WSJ, NYT, Post, AFP, BBC, AP). Five months in the making, the pact was finalized during Karzai's two-day trip to India, a country that has been one of Afghanistan's largest funding sources since 2001, having given nearly $2 billion in aid (Post). The move is likely to further alienate Pakistan from its neighbors, exacerbating tensions caused by Afghan accusations of Pakistani support for militants who have recently launched high-profile attacks within Afghanistan (NYT, AP, Reuters, ET). Karzai on Wednesday said that the pact is not meant as an aggressive move toward Pakistan, which he called "a twin brother," while terming India "a great friend" (ET,BBC, Reuters, AP).

The deputy head of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS), Mohammad Yasin Zia, said Tuesday at a press conference that Pakistan has refused to cooperate in the country's investigation into the killing of former Afghan President and High Peace Council leader Burhanuddin Rabbani, and had refused to arrest Taliban leaders in Pakistan (AFP, AP, McClatchy). Zia said, "We want [the Taliban leaders] arrested and handed over to us. We have all their photos, home addresses and even their contact numbers. Our requests [to Pakistan] are very clear, but they are not helping us." Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and its ambassador to Afghanistan both rejected the claims and reaffirmed their support for the investigation, but recriminations between the two countries continue to demonstrate their deteriorating relationship (ET,AP, Reuters). Meanwhile, Reuters' Zhou Xin reports that China's intentions in Afghanistan are tied more to economic desires than to political motivations, meaning that many Chinese politicians wish to avoid taking on a military role in Afghanistan's future (Reuters).

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