India is planning a tough response to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s move for an MoU between Afghan intelligence service (NDS) and Pakistan’s ISI that has created a furore inside Afghanistan. While New Delhi may not say anything publicly, it has conveyed its unhappiness.
The deal came as a bit of a surprise. In fact, Ghani’s rival-turned coalition partner, Abdullah Abdullah, too was blindsided by the President’s outreach to ISI, regarded as puppet-master of Taliban.
He had suggested changes in the MoU, but those were not incorporated in the final draft. Even India was in the dark about the pact, which was presented post facto to the world. The deal may have been signed when Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif visited Kabul last week.
“Intelligence cooperation with ISI means doubting Pakistani duplicity in terror, dishonouring National Defense Security Forces’ sacrifices and falling in deception,” former NDS chief Amrullah Saleh tweeted.
Nobody is clear about Ghani’s logic or his aims, but Indian sources said the deal may have been inspired by the British who play a role inside Afghanistan. Security sources said the deal was opposed by the NDS head Rahmatullah Nabil, but he was overruled.
Ghani on 21 May announced the appointment of Masoom Stanekzai as the new defence minister and issued a strongly worded statement to the International Contact Group (ICG).
Most Afghans have evidence corroborated by US sources showing the close relationship between Pakistan’s ISI and the Afghan Taliban. Ghani praised Pakistan, particularly Nawaz Sharif’s public criticism of Taliban.
“We need to see this translated into a programme of action where sanctuary is denied and material support and others [are denied]. It is an extensive programme and we are in good discussions,” he said.
However, in the past week, the discomfort inside Afghanistan has only grown. Ghani has tried to involve Pakistan in maintaining peace in Afghanistan.