India’s consultations with Afghanistan got into high gear in the days before Afghan President Hamid Karzai is due to visit Islamabad on Monday. As if to underlie Indian concerns in Afghanistan, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh visited Jalalabad this weekend where militants had tried to storm the Indian consulate.
The Foreign Office, detailing her three-day visit after it was over on Sunday, flagged the concern over militant violence as foremost on her agenda.
Her visit, they said, “conveyed a clear message that no terrorist attack can have an impact on India’s strong determination to assist Afghanistan in its reconstruction and development efforts.”
India has been upfront in opposing U.S. moves to open talks with the Taliban. It has reservations about some of the factions, especially the Haqqani group, which had once trained and sent fighters to Kashmir. This faction has a different outlook from the groups led by the Peshawar and the Quetta Shuras and helped by its four decades of association with the Pakistan military, the group has sometimes turned its attention towards India.
Ms. Singh’s visit was preceded by the arrival of Afghan Second Vice President Karim Khalili who met almost the entire Indian leadership.
As the Foreign Office underlined, Ms. Singh was on her “first solo trip” during which she met her counterpart Ershad Ahmadi, First Vice President Marshal Fahim and Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasool. She was accompanied by the Foreign Office’s pointsmen for Afghanistan who have also taken over recently — Rudrendra Tandon, Joint Secretary (Pakistan, Afghanistan and India) and Indian Ambassador Amar Sinha. During her visit to Jalalabad, Ms. Singh met the Governor of Nangarhar Province, whose forces had beaten off the attack on the Indian consulate.