India "shell-shocked" over improving Pak-Afghan relationship

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New Delhi, July 26(ANI): India, along with other South Asian countries, is "shell-shocked" with recent moves by Pakistan and Afghanistan to improve their once-frosty relationship, the New York Times has reported.

The US government considers that the Pakistan-Afghanistan overtures are essential for success of the war on terrorism, but India, Iran and Afghanistan's northern neighbours fear that they are a step toward fulfilling Afghan President Hamid Karzai's desire to negotiate with Taliban leaders.

According to the newspaper, the countries believe that Karzai's plans could compromise their security and interests by lessening the influence of Afghanistan's Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara ethnic minorities, with whom they have cultivated close links.

Talking about the issue, a senior Indian official said that allowing the Taliban to have a role in the Afghan government is something that "we don't think is a very good idea".

"It's not that there are two equal political factions, with equal legitimacy, that have a right to political power. Karzai is the elected president. Not the Taliban. It should not be a question of negotiating a place at the table for them," The New York Times quoted the official, as saying.

The official also said that the Indian government disputes "suggestions that come from the Pakistanis that the Taliban is legitimate, they represent the Pashtuns and therefore you need to deal with them and negotiate with them. That's the difference. We don't think they represent the Pashtuns."

India has opened four consulates in Afghanistan, even though relatively few Indian citizens live there, and invested 1.3 billion dollars in development projects - far more than Pakistan has.

"The Indians are shell-shocked. They went in with more than a billion dollars, and now Pakistan is eating their lunch," said a Western diplomat involved in Afghanistan policy. (ANI)

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