Afghanistan, India Sign Comprehensive Partnership Deal

Posted October 4th, 2011 at 2:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh have signed a strategic partnership agreement aimed at strengthening their countries' ties.

The agreement covers a wide range of issues, including security cooperation, trade and economic ties, and social and cultural exchanges. It is the first comprehensive pact the Afghan government has finalized with any foreign ally since the start of the country's war in 2001.

After their meeting Tuesday, both leaders appealed for regional peace and cooperation.

While the two-day trip was planned weeks ago, Mr. Karzai's visit comes as regional tensions are on the rise. Both Indian and Afghan authorities have accused Pakistan of creating unrest in Afghanistan, a charge that Pakistan denies.

On Monday, Mr. Karzai again accused Pakistan of playing a “double game” in dealing with extremists. Afghanistan's intelligence agency says it has evidence that last month's killing of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani was planned in Pakistan.

India also accuses Pakistan of plotting attacks on Indian targets within Afghanistan, including two bomb attacks on its embassy in 2008 and 2009.

The United States has accused Pakistan of having “links” with the Haqqani network, an al-Qaida-affiliated Afghan militant group, which Washington says has safe havens in Pakistan's North Waziristan region.

Last month, then U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen called the Haqqani network a “veritable arm” of the ISI, Pakistan's main intelligence agency.