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Disillusioned with Pakistan, Karzai warms up to India
Afghan Presidentís Ďstrategicí visit to New Delhi begins tomorrow

New Delhi, October 2
Disillusioned by Pakistanís attitude and its hobnobbing with the Haqqani network, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai will focus on strengthening ties with India during his visit here starting on Tuesday.

Karzai will hold comprehensive talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after which the two countries are expected to ink a strategic pact to streamline the various assistance programmes of India and institutionalise bilateral security dialogue.

The two sides are also looking at inking some MoUs in the exploration of mineral resources during Karzaiís two-day visit.

During the visit, which comes just days after the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was heading the peace process in the war-torn country, the two sides are expected to discuss the fragile security situation in Afghanistan and the role of Pakistanís Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in fomenting instability in that country by supporting the Haqqani network.

According to diplomatic sources, the Afghan governmentís assessment is that it is futile to rely on Pakistan as it is hand-in-glove with the Haqqani group, an outfit that is closely allied with the Taliban, and there is need to have deeper ties in key areas with India.

Afghan officials say they have strong evidence that the assassination of Rabbani was organised by the Taliban leadership based in Quetta, Pakistan, with the help of the ISI.

However, Pakistani officials have denied their involvement in Rabbaniís killing.

While on the one hand Afghanistan is rethinking its relationship with Pakistan, on the other, Karzai in a recent statement said his government will work closely with the US, Europe and India to plan the countryís future.

Singh and Karzai will also discuss the fate of the reconciliation efforts in the backdrop of the September 20 killing of Rabbani, a former president who was heading the Afghan High Council that was shepherding negotiations with the Taliban.

Karzai will also deliver a lecture on India-Afghan relations and the situation in the region on Wednesday.

The visit also comes amid souring US-Pakistan relations which have plunged to a new low after fresh disclosures about the role of Pakistan-backed Haqqani network and ISI in attacks against Americans.

In a strong public condemnation of Pakistan, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said recently that Pakistanís ISI was actively supporting Haqqani network extremists who, he stressed, have targeted US forces in Afghanistan, a statement which has not gone down well with Islamabad. ó PTI 

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