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Pakistan Cautious About Indo-Afghan Strategic Pact

Afghan President Hamid Karzai with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (file photo)
Afghan President Hamid Karzai with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (file photo)

Pakistan has issued a muted official reaction to this week's signing of a strategic pact between neighboring Afghanistan and India. Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the agreement Tuesday during a visit to New Delhi.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tehmina Janjua said Thursday in Islamabad that the government is closely studying the pact.

Pakistan Cautious About Indo-Afghan Strategic Pact
Pakistan Cautious About Indo-Afghan Strategic Pact

“The fundamental principle of ensuring stability in the region must be taken into full account,” Janjua said.

She repeated Islamabad’s denial of accusations by the Afghan government that Pakistan was involved in last month’s killing of former Afghan president and peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani. She urged Kabul to stop making such claims.

“It is our expectation that everyone, especially those in a position of authority in Afghanistan, will demonstrate requisite maturity and responsibilit," said Janjua. "This is no time for point scoring, playing politics, or grandstanding.”

This week’s Indo-Afghan agreement includes, among other areas of cooperation, a deepening of security ties, under which Indian military experts will train Afghan security forces.

In an effort to reassure Pakistan after signing the deal, Afghan President Hamid Karzai called Pakistan a “twin brother,” while calling India a "great friend."

However, Karzai and senior U.S. officials have stepped up accusations that Pakistan’s intelligence agency played a key role in a string of recent deadly attacks in Afghanistan. Pakistan denies the accusations.

Janjua says Pakistan would like to see the situation in Afghanistan “calm down.”

In remarks to reporters Wednesday night, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani also refrained from criticizing the new Indo-Afghan pact.

“Both are sovereign countries. They have the right to do whatever they want to. We are all in the same region,” said Gilani.

Pakistani defense analyst Ayesha Siddiqa says the country's leaders are holding back their real opinions about the deal.

“Of course they don’t like it. This is beyond doubt that the Pakistani establishment does not like what has happened," said Siddiqa. "Because what they’ve been crying for so long is that Indian presence in Afghanistan would hurt Pakistan’s interests.”

Pakistan’s media have been more vocal about their distaste for the Indo-Afghan pact. The leading newspaper Dawn said Thursday that the agreement will increase mistrust in the region. The Nation said it will “prove destabilizing” and alleged it is part of an Indian plan to encircle Pakistan.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman also dismissed the latest Afghan accusations that those arrested in connection with an alleged assassination plot targeting Karzai had links with Pakistani militants.