Published On: Wed, May 20th, 2015

View from India – Pakistan Afghanistan Intelligence Sharing

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By The New Indian Express

The goings-on in Afghanistan ever since Ashraf Ghani was chosen to head a unity government seven months ago have been becoming curiouser and curiouser. The twists and turns in Kabul have also been causing concern in India, which had the best relations with the previous Hamid Karzai regime. The latest shocker from the land-locked nation is an agreement the intelligence agencies of Afghanistan and Pakistan have signed to share intelligence, interrogate terror suspects and draw up joint counter-terrorism operations. Pakistan has confirmed that such an agreement was signed during the recent visit of prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was accompanied by the chiefs of the Pakistan Army and the intelligence agency ISI. The main purpose of the visit, it is touted, was to step up cooperation in the fight against terror.

As was only to be expected, some law-makers in Afghanistan have already protested against the agreement because they have been accusing Pakistan of engendering terrorism in Afghanistan. True, Pakistan has also been accusing the Afghan Taliban of trying to control the Pakistani territory contiguous with Afghanistan. Given the conflict of interest, it is indeed amusing that the intelligence agencies of the two countries have anything worth to share. The world knows only too well that for the Pakistani ISI, terror is an instrument with which it seeks to pursue its intelligence objectives. Far from fighting terror, it has been using terrorist organisations to foment trouble in Afghanistan and India. The US, which treated Pakistan as its ally in the war on terror, knows how Pakistan has been good at playing double games.

There is a message in all this for India. Evidence suggests that Ghani wants to be closer to Pakistan than India. He seems to be determined to prove to Islamabad that he does not work with Pakistan’s arch rival India. This should explain the chill that has begun to characterise India-Afghan relations. It is not for no reason that he took seven months to visit India. Even when he condescended to visit, it was after visiting Pakistan and Beijing. Also to be noted was that he came empty-handed and the two sides could not sign any agreement worth the name. India cannot afford to ignore the ground reality in Kabul. It must, accordingly, calibrate its relationship with a view to protecting India’s national interest at any cost.

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