Pakistan has issued a stern warning to Afghanistan in the wake of Afghan President Hamid Karzai signing a historic security and economic pact with Pakistan’s historic enemy, India.
Tehmina Janjua, a spokeswoman for the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, said Islamabad expects Kabul to behave responsibly and to avoid ”point-scoring, playing politics or grandstanding.”
At this defining stage when challenges have multiplied, as have the opportunities, it is our expectation that everyone, especially those in position of authority in Afghanistan, will demonstrate requisite maturity and responsibility, Janjua told reporters.
Pakistan, whose relations with Afghanistan have been battered by allegations that the Pakistani government has links to the Haqqani militant organization which has carried out attacks in Kabul, finds itself in a very uncomfortable position.
Sandwiched geographically between India and Afghanistan, Pakistan cannot afford to allow it relations with Kabul deteriorate any further. Pakistani officials are clearly aggrieved over India's growing influence in the region.
Karzai signed a strategic partnership agreement with India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday under which the Indian government will provide assistance to Afghanistan following the departure of foreign troops in 2014. That is on top of the $2 billion India has already promised Afghanistan for infrastructure upgrades in the war-ravaged nation.
In addition, Karzai’s new pact with India will also reportedly include a greater commitment by Delhi to provide more security and police training within Afghanistan itself. The underlying theme is that India is seeking to integrate Afghanistan more into the broader economy of South Asia, which India, of course, dominates.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s grip on Afghanistan appears to be slipping.
Earlier this week, Afghanistan’s interior minister directly accused Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI, of being responsible for the suicide bombing that killed Burhanuddin Rabbani, an Afghan envoy who was seeking peace talks with Taliban forces.
Pakistan strongly denied the allegations.
Karzai tried to defuse the growing rift by telling reporters in New Delhi: Pakistan is a twin brother. India is a great friend. The agreement that we signed yesterday with our friend will not affect our brother.
However, Karzai’s words are likely finding deaf ears in Pakistan, which has deeply resented his close ties to India.
Talat Masood, an analyst and former Pakistani general, told Associated Press: The agreement [between India and Afghanistan] will heighten Pakistan's insecurities. Pakistan has always felt that it is being encircled by India from both the eastern and western borders.