Manmohan's Kabul Visit Shows India's Rising Influence: Daily

Islamabad, May 16 (IANS) It was time for Pakistan to revisit it Afghan policy, a leading newspaper here said Monday while noting that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's trip to Kabul indicates the "the rising influence of India in Afghanistan".

An editorial in the Daily Times Monday said: "The timing of Manmohan Singh's visit to Afghanistan and his address to the Afghan parliament as the first foreign leader to do so not only indicate the rising influence of India in Afghanistan but also the efficacy of soft power in pursuing foreign policy objectives in today's world."

Manmohan Singh had last week gone on a two-day visit to Kabul where he pledged New Delhi's continued support to Afghanistan's development. He met Afghan President Hamid Karzai and discussed the security situation arising out of the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and the threat of terrorism looming over the South Asian region.

With the imminent withdrawal of the US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, it said, all the regional actors are jockeying for influence in the war ravaged country.

Lauding Manmohan Singh, the editorial said: " support the right of the Afghan people, who are victims of outside interference in their internal affairs for the past four decades, to decide their own fate, was a very statesman-like approach."

It stated that the second most important highlight of the visit was Manmohan Singh's "support for the reconciliation plan with the Taliban".

"He (Manmohan Singh) understands that the Taliban are a reality and the Afghan people have the right to decide on a strategic compromise in the interests of the Afghan people."

Noting that after the overthrow of the Taliban, "India had lent a helping hand to Afghanistan through aid and reconstruction of the war ravaged country", the editorial said that it has "created goodwill for India and also revived an old friendship".

"This has not gone down well with Pakistan's security establishment. It was the fear of being sandwiched between a hostile India and a pro-India Afghanistan that led our security establishment to create and implement the 'strategic depth' doctrine, but the diminishing returns of that policy have started to become apparent.

"Not only has Pakistan been engulfed in the fire of extremist violence, the Americans are losing patience with Pakistan's policy of promoting jihadis for use in Afghanistan and are threatening more drone strikes and other unilateral actions. India is succeeding in achieving its objectives in Afghanistan through soft power, which we have failed to do because of our reliance on hard power through proxies. It is time Pakistan revisited its Afghan policy."


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