2 minute readKarzai to brief India on new Taliban strategy

New Delhi: Afghan President Hamid Karzai comes here Tuesday on a two-day visit during which the two sides are expected to ink a strategic partnership accord and discuss Pakistani spy agency ISI’s alleged complicity in supporting Taliban militants like the Haqqani network.

Karzai is expected to brief Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on his revised strategy for reconciliation with the Taliban in the aftermath of the assassination of former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, his chief interlocutor with the Taliban.

The discussions will continue at the dinner the prime minister will host for Karzai, who has been educated in India.

Karzai, who comes here against the backdrop of Afghanistan’s souring relations with Pakistan, has indicated he is reviewing his strategy for making peace with the Taliban.

He has also voiced frustration with the failure to establish contact with senior Afghan Taliban leaders like supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, and stressed the need for talks with Pakistan.

Against this background, Karzai is expected to consult Manmohan Singh over ways to bring peace and stability to his violence-torn country, reliable sources said.

In an important step, India and Afghanistan are expected to ink a strategic partnership agreement that was envisaged in the May 12 joint declaration during Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kabul.

The strategic accord is aimed at bolstering cooperation against international terror and could include India training Afghan security forces for counter-terror operations.

The agreement could lead to institutionalizing dialogue at the level of the National Security Adviser to discuss the security issues.

The two sides may also sign agreements related to mineral exploration.

“The visit provides an opportunity for both countries to consolidate their strategic partnership and discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest,” the external affairs ministry said here Monday while announcing Karzai’s visit.

Karzai will deliver the third RK Mishra Memorial Lecture on India-Afghanistan relations at the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank, Wednesday. The lecture will be chaired by External Affairs Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna.

Issues relating to expanding trade, commerce and connectivity with a view to making Afghanistan a hub for regional trade will figure in the discussions, said a reliable source.

India has pledged USD 2 billion for a slew of development projects in Afghanistan, making it one of the largest regional donors to the violence-hit country.

Rabbani, a former Afghan president, was heading the Afghan High Council which was entrusted with the task of reconciliation with the Taliban. He was assassinated by a suicide bomber outside his home in Kabul September 20.

A statement released by Karzai’s presidential palace in Kabul Sunday said new evidence showed that Rabbani’s killer was ‘a citizen of Pakistan’.

The statement also asked Pakistan to extradite people involved in the assassination of Rabbani, marking a further downturn in Afghan-Pakistan relations which have been strained by Pakistan’s suspected continuing support to the Taliban militants.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office has strongly rejected the allegations of the ISI’s involvement in Rabbani’s killing and asked Kabul to desist from “making such irresponsible statements”.

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