Indo-Pak tensions loom over London conference on Afghanistan

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New Delhi, Jan. 25 (ANI): Signalling undercurrent and simmering tensions in the India-Pakistan relations following the IPL row and a rise in ceasefire violations, Indian Foreign Minister S M Krishna and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi will be attending the London conference on Afghanistan on January 28, but will not have a separate bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the conference, according to sources.

This is very rare and unusual in the context of Indo-Pak relations and reflects the prevailing discord between the two neighbours.

Sources, however,have confirmed that Krishna will hold separate meetings with US secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

The London Conference on Afghanistan will be an occasion which India could use to showcase its massive humanitarian efforts in war-ravaged countries, which many diplomats believe is "undervalued" and little understood by the international community.

India is providing aid worth 1.3 billion USD to improve infrastructure, education and medical health of the beleaguered country.

Recently, US have lauded India's effort. Britain has said it is taking lessons from Indian initiatives in Afghanistan.

Pakistan on the other hand, continues to remain skeptical about Indian efforts and has yet not opened transit route for Indian goods to pass through its soil into the land locked Afghanistan.

India which is the largest regional donor to Afghanistan is also expected to announce a new initiative on agriculture during the conference, but has apprehensions over the event coming out with any significant outcome, though more than 27 countries are attending it with divergent views.

India will be a prominent voice at the conference because the West believes that with its economic power and regional clout, India, Russia and Iran could play a vital role in shaping the future of Afghanistan. The West is also urging China to take a keen interest, share the burden and get involved in the building up of Afghanistan.

India has time and again blamed Pakistan for sheltering terrorists on its soil and has made it clear to the US and NATO that until these sanctuaries exist, permanent peace for Afghanistan could prove elusive.

India has repeatedly drawn world attention to Pakistan's covert support to the terrorist organizations, while Islamabad has been blaming India for supporting insurgents in Balochistan through its consulates in Afghanistan.

Diplomatic sources say this issue is unlikely to be raised during the conference. Only development-related issues and initiatives will be taken up by the participating countries.

Karzai's proposal of reconciliation with Taliban is expected to come up at the conference. By Naveen Kapoor (ANI)

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