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Embassy bombs had Pak ordnance factory markings

Embassy bombs had Pak ordnance factory markings

Author: Pranab Dhal Samanta
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: August 3, 2008
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/343949.html

Introduction: Clinching evidence of ISI involvement prompts closer defence ties with Afghanistan

Evidence is piling up against Pakistan's ISI as the mastermind of the attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul last month. Forensic investigations carried out by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force have shown that the three mines and a tank shell which were also in the car that exploded bear markings of Pakistan Ordnance Factory, Wah.

Prompted by this, India is set to start a serious conversation on defence cooperation with Afghanistan during President Hamid Karzai's visit to Delhi starting Sunday.

Forensic experts went into great detail, examining the remnants from the blast site and concluded that the markings on the ammunition were of Pakistan Ordnance Factory, Wah. This has now been conveyed to Indian and Afghan authorities.

This physical evidence, sources said, was crucial to corroborating the technical evidence which the US had gathered in the form of intercepts between ISI officials and members of the Jalaluddin Haqqani group before the attack.

The US had worked on these intercepts to conclude that serious plans were afoot to attack the Indian Embassy. This was passed on to Afghan authorities who then alerted the Indian embassy which stepped up the security.

Forensic investigations have confirmed use of mobile oil in large quantities along with RDX. After analysing photographs from security cameras, sources said, experts have concluded that the car used was a blue Toyota.

The attack is fast proving to be a turning point in India's approach to Afghanistan with the country actively considering more meaningful defence cooperation with the Karzai government. The clearest indicator is the last-minute inclusion of Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak in Karzai's delegation.

Kabul has been keen on establishing closer defence ties with India given the long-term nature of the threat it faces from Pakistan-sponsored terror outfits. Currently, the US is involved in raising and training the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) of 70,000 troops. This, however, is inadequate as far as the Karzai regime is concerned.

In fact, between 2003 and 2006, the West had spent only $3 billion on the ANA, raising questions on its commitment. There was sudden urgency last year and assistance to ANA was stepped up to $4 billion for 2007 alone. But all this still does not add up because of these 70,000, half would be combat-trained.

South Block officials have been clear from the start that a country like Afghanistan with all its security requirements needs an army of not less than 120-130,000 along with armoured and artillery support. However, India has stayed out of involving itself in Afghanistan's defence matters because of Pakistan's sensitivities in the matter.

On many occasions, Islamabad has made this clear to Washington and London besides other key countries that it was strongly against New Delhi's involvement in Kabul's military affairs. The attack on the Indian embassy, however, seems to have prompted a change in approach.

To begin with, India could consider helping Afghanistan service some old equipment and possibly in supplies. Kabul has in the past handed over lists of items it would need in the Defence sector from India.

While no exact commitments are expected during the Karzai visit, sources said, the first detailed discussions will definitely begin and India would keep an open mind. On a broader plane, India will look to develop a coordinated effort with other Western powers to force a rethink on giving more teeth to the fledgling Afghan Army.

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