Malik’s visit

A fortnightly column on the high politics of the Af-Pak region, the fulcrum of global power play in India's neighbourhood

Malik's visit

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik comes to New Delhi this week when there is a significant dynamism on Islamabad's western frontiers. To be sure, Delhi's focus in the talks with Malik is on the bilateral agenda — especially justice for the plotters of the 26/11 attacks on Mumbai.

But it is in India's interest to widen the conversation with Malik to include the latest developments in Afghanistan where Islamabad has begun to make some big moves.

In fact, Malik is coming to India straight from a meeting between Asif Ali Zardari and Hamid Karzai, the presidents of Pakistan and Afghanistan respectively, organised by Turkey in Ankara.

The intensified Pak-Afghan dialogue is part of a larger diplomatic effort to develop a framework for regional reconciliation in 2013 as the United States prepares to end its combat role in Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Pakistan has put itself back at the centre of the new regional diplomacy on Afghanistan. Whether Pakistan succeeds or not, what happens on its western borders will have a big impact on India's own security.

Since the 1970s, the developments in Afghanistan have set the stage for the radicalisation of Pakistan, facilitated the growth of violent religious extremism in the region, and undermined Indo-Pak relations.

If Pakistan's Afghanistan policy has arrived at another defining moment, India would want to get a firsthand account from Malik.

Endgame

In the last two months, the US and Pakistan have put aside the bitterness of the last two years and have decided to revive their bilateral cooperation. Many in Washington's political establishment believe Pakistan holds the key to the future stability of Afghanistan and might be willing to pay the price for Rawalpindi's support.

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