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Fahim And An Afghan Mystery

Fahim And An Afghan Mystery

Author: Jyoti Malhotra
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: December 10, 2002
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/full_story.php?content_id=14474

The story behind the US demarche to India on Afghanistan on behalf of Pakistan gets curiouser and curiouser. It now seems that Washington, which installed the US-educated Hamid Karzai in power in Kabul-and knows his writ doesn't run much beyond the Afghan capital-is said to have made its own enquiries about India's growing presence in Afghanistan.

Turns out, they asked none other than Marshal Fahim, Masood's key military strategist and now the Defence minister, about India's intentions. We don't know what Fahim said, or if we did, much of it is unprintable.

But back to Pakistan and the US. The US State Department is said to be very much in the forefront of giving Musharraf a long rope on the hunt for the al Qaeda and not allow Indian criticism of Islamabad to detract attention from Iraq.

A key architect of this policy is assistant secretary of state for South Asia Christina Rocca. Her friendship with Pakistan's earlier ambassador to the US Maleeha Lodhi was legion. But clearly, Rocca seems to have now succumbed to the charms of one Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, Pakistan's current ambassador to the US.

That must come as no surprise to New Delhi, which knows well the very persuasive and very articulate manner of Pakistan's former high commissioner to India. So is Rocca going to do another Robin Raphael on India? Raphael as pointperson for South Asia a decade ago was instrumental in carving out US policy on Afghanistan-and turning a blind eye to the growth of the Taliban.

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