As with the Strategic Partnership Agreement between India and Afghanistan in October 2011, Pakistan on Friday sought to remain outwardly unfazed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s “wishlist” of military equipment that he submitted to New Delhi earlier this week.
Reacting to questions about Mr. Karzai’s visit to New Delhi and request for military equipment from India, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told media-persons that “as a free country, Afghanistan is free to pursue its own policies”. Pakistan hopes that Afghanistan will keep in mind overall peace and security in the region, he added.
Mr. Karzai’s India visit and request for military equipment comes at a time when relations between Kabul and Islamabad have gone sour again after a short-lived period of bonhomie. Over the past couple of months, Kabul has stepped up allegations against Pakistan over cross-border firing and construction of posts along the border. Pakistan, for its part, sought to keep temperatures low at least in official statements.
Increasingly, there is a growing realisation among the foreign policy elite of Pakistan that India has a role to play in Afghanistan’s progress and prosperity. Though India’s presence in Afghanistan has always been a cause for concern in Pakistan, the allegation that “India has 32 consulates along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border” is now seldom bandied about.
For long, the allegation against India was that it was running these ‘consulates’ in Afghanistan to destabilise Pakistan. A year ago, Foreign Office spokesman said it was “factually incorrect” to say that India was running these many consulates along the Af-Pak border.