Karzai Reaches Out to Pakistan Following India Deal

Posted October 5th, 2011 at 1:20 pm (UTC-5)
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Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking to ease any Pakistani concerns about his country's newly signed cooperation deal with Pakistan's traditional enemy, India.

Speaking in New Delhi at the end of his two-day state visit, Mr. Karzai described Pakistan as a “twin brother,” saying that the agreement signed with India will not affect the two countries' relationship.

On Tuesday, Mr. Karzai signed a strategic partnership agreement with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh aimed at strengthening security cooperation, trade, and social and cultural exchanges. The deal also contains India's pledge to help train Afghan police and army.

This is the first comprehensive pact the Afghan government has finalized with any foreign ally since the start of the country's war in 2001.

Analysts say the formal strengthening of ties between Afghanistan and India could cause concern in Pakistan. But when asked about the deal Wednesday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said both of Pakistan's neighbors are sovereign countries and “they have the right to do whatever they want.”

Mr. Karzai's visit also comes as regional tensions involving Pakistan are on the rise. Both Indian and Afghan authorities have accused Pakistan of creating unrest in Afghanistan, a charge 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.