Two longtime Afghanistan hands, Elizabeth Rubin and Bob Shepherd, have told us repeatedly about the struggle between Pakistan and India playing out on the field of Afghanistan. And, by all accounts, the three suicide bombings today in Kabul targeted Indian nationals. Two of the explosions occurred at guesthouses for Indians working in Afghanistan, and a Taliban spokesman told Al Jazeera that the goal had been to strike at the "enemies of Afghanistan from among the foreign Indians."
So what does this mean as the US steps up its involvement?
Well, for one thing, as Bob Shepherd tells us today, “It would appear as several steps back from the exit strategy if McChrystal has to put troops back into securing Kabul again.
“It makes the flag raising on the dot on the landscape of Marjah look very insignificant when NATO have nothing to do with securing the capital.”
The Pakistani government, as we know, has been working with the US to track down—and successfully so—Taliban members. Additionally, only yesterday, the foreign ministers of Pakistan and India met, for the first time since the Mumbai bombing. “The attack looks to have more to do with [that] meeting, given the amount of Indian deaths in the attacks and Indian managed establishments that were hit,” Shepherd points out.
The Taliban—and others—have a vested interest in keeping up tensions. For one thing, more trouble between Pakistan and India means less heat on them. Seven out of 15 members of Mullah Omar’s branch of the Taliban have been captured by Pakistan in the past few weeks.
- Michele Mitchell