Staying with Kabul

India must hear out the formal arguments from London, Washington and Kabul that there is a significant shift in the attitude of the Pakistani army, and that it is ready for peace in the region. Although this proposition might not seem credible, dismissing it out of hand is not smart diplomacy. India must reaffirm that it is not in competition with Pakistan in Afghanistan and is prepared to address Islamabad's concerns about India's policy in Afghanistan and consider a new framework for trilateral economic and political cooperation between Delhi, Islamabad and Kabul. If the Pakistan army continues to derail those possibilities and revives Afghanistan as a base from which to mount attacks on India, Delhi has no choice but to mount a countervailing coalition.

As a new phase begins in the tragic history of its north-western marches, sulking can't be Delhi's strategy. India must keep an open mind, engage all the major Afghan formations, intensify the dialogue with all the regional and international stakeholders, and find ways to influence the outcomes.

The writer, a distinguished fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, is a contributing editor for 'The Indian Express'

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