Conflict & Justice

Indian PM in Kabul for post-Osama talks

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Afghanistan on Thursday for a two-day visit, including talks on the regional impact of Osama bin Laden's death and future aid projects, the Hindustan Times quoted officials as saying.

In this case, it looks like timing is everything. Singh is on his first visit to Kabul in six years, suggesting that he won't just be talking about how cool the Seals are when he meets Afghan President Hamid Karzai; he'll be angling for info about how India can help the beleaguered Afghan leader downsize the heretofore projected role of Pakistan in peace talks and the post-war administration.

According to the Indian Express, Singh told Karzai India will stand by Afghanistan "through thick and thin," saying:

"India and Afghanistan are partners in progress. We will stand by you through thick and thin and reaffirm our solidarity with the people and government of Afghanistan."

The Times of India predicted some big ticket aid projects will be announced, but added that "India really wants to do more in the security sector, to train Afghan forces so they can take over when the international troops leave."

The paper also said India wants to push forward, following Turkey's lead, on efforts to secure a regional role (read: not just the US and Pakistan) in meeting Afghanistan's post-war development needs.

The US is negotiating a Strategic Partnership Declaration with Afghanistan, which includes a status-of-forces-agreement -- it will see more US bases in Afghanistan, the paper said, adding that won't sit well with either Pakistan or China. But TOI's source say India will push for a broader role for countries like Iran, Russia, and the Central Asian republics to counterbalance the influence of Pakistan.

As much as the US-Pakistan marriage is on the rocks, some of the countries on that list won't make America too happy, either.