Blast Rocks Eastern Afghan City - Residents
KABUL (Reuters) - An explosion shook the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, but there was no immediate word on casualties or the cause, residents said.
The blast happened in central Jalalabad during the morning rush hour, they said.
Al-Qaeda funding the return of the Taliban, top US commander says
Tue Mar 29, 3:55 AM ET
KABUL (AFP) - Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network is making fresh efforts to stage a comeback by the Taliban and regain a foothold of its own in Afghanistan, the commander of US forces in the country said.
Lieutenant General David Barno said Tuesday the US believed both Bin Laden and fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar were probably still in the region, possibly on the rugged border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"Al-Qaeda clearly still wants to see the Taliban stage some kind of a comeback in Afghanistan," Barno told AFP.
"They're still providing financing, with guidance, training, support and selected individuals that help lead and motivate the operations here in Afghanistan."
Barno added that Al-Qaeda militants were "located in tribal areas, down there in border areas, probably on both sides of the border" with Pakistan.
"We operate under the assumption that they're still in this region," he said when asked where Bin Laden and Mullah Omar were believed to be.
The hardline Islamic Taliban sheltered the Saudi before and after the bloody September 11, 2001 airborne attacks by Al-Qaeda on the United States.
US-led forces and Afghan generals from the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance ousted the fundamentalist Taliban later the same year but Bin Laden was never caught.
Around 18,000 troops from a US-led coalition remain in the country hunting Bin Laden and his deputies and trying to quell an insurgency by Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Despite the Taliban's failure to disrupt the historic presidential election on October 9, Al-Qaeda continued to back them, Barno said.
"They clearly want to use the Taliban as they have in the past tried to regain some sort of a foothold here in Afghanistan," he added.
However Barno said positive political and economic developments in the war-torn nation had made it "less and less attractive for the Taliban".
"The Taliban realize that the future doesn't lead to a path that includes Al-Qaeda and Talibans... it's a democratic path that people have voted for and chosen right now," he said.
Laura Bush travelling to Afghanistan
Tuesday March 29, 11:48 PM AFP
US First Lady Laura Bush left for a lightning trip to Afghanistan to highlight improvements in women's quality of life and meet with US troops still fighting Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces there.
Bush, who will be on the ground for about five hours, will meet separately with women's groups and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and will have dinner with US troops before returning to Washington, the White House said.
"Mrs Bush has long been looking forward to visiting Afghanistan. This visit will be an opportunity to highlight the advances made for women in the country and to underscore our long-term commit to the people of Afghanistan," said spokesman Scott McClellan.
The first lady was to announce a 17.7 million dollar grant for the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul as well as a 3.5 million dollar grant for the international elementary school of Afghanistan, he said.
Bush's visit coincided with a trip by Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky to convene the sixth formal meeting of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council, the US State Department said.
Dobriansky was heading a delegation comprising US officials as well as religious and private sector leaders, the department said in a statement.
Suspect arrested after Kabul bomb hits Canadian embassy car
KABUL, March 29 (AFP) - Afghan police have arrested a man in connection with a bomb blast in Kabul which hit a Canadian diplomatic car, injuring four people including one Canadian, officials said Tuesday.
The 23-year-old suspect was seized hours after the explosion on Monday when he tried to run away from police officers, Colonel Mohammad Akber of the capital's police force told AFP.
"He was carrying a black box and threw it into a river as we chased him," the colonel said. "We don't know what the box contained -- we suspect that he had some materials linked to the explosion," he added.
The man was being questioned by police over his alleged involvement in the blast, which went off close to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force peacekeepers' camp in eastern Kabul.
Akber said one Canadian was among the victims who sustained "very minor" injuries from the shattered window of his diplomatic vehicle. It was not known if the vehicle he was driving was the target of the explosion.
However, foreigners in heavily guarded Kabul have been on alert since gunmen in 4x4 vehicles shot dead British development worker Steven MacQueen in the capital on March 7.
In addition to the 18,000-strong US-led coalition force hunting remnants of the ousted Taliban regime in Afghanistan's south and southeast, around 8,000 NATO troops are based the capital and some northern regions.
Six Afghan soldiers, two Americans wounded in Afghan ambushes
Wednesday March 30, 12:06 AM AP
Militants armed with bombs and guns attacked U.S. and government troops in Afghanistan Tuesday, wounding six Afghan and two American soldiers.
Insurgents detonated a bomb beside a vehicle carrying Afghan troops near Asadabad, 190 kilometers (120 miles) east of Kabul, in Kunar province, and then shot at them with small arms, the U.S. military said.
Four of the six soldiers wounded underwent surgery at U.S. military hospitals, a military statement said. The other two were listed as stable.
The two U.S. soldiers were injured in a similar ambush near Tirin Kot, 400 kilometers (250 miles) southwest of Kabul, in central Uruzgan province, the statement said. Both were evacuated to a U.S. base for treatment and were stable, it said.
Both Kunar and Uruzgan are hotspots for Taliban-led militants, who have vowed to step up attacks on government and foreign targets with the end of the harsh Afghan winter.
A roadside bomb exploded in the capital on Monday, damaging a Canadian diplomatic vehicle and injuring four Afghan civilians in another car.
Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed Zahir Azimi said the six injured Afghans were among 20 soldiers from the country's new U.S.-trained army who were riding a truck when it was it hit by the blast.
He said several people were detained nearby after the blast and were being questioned.
Another Afghan soldier was wounded when a comrade stepped on a land mine in western Afghanistan on Monday, the U.S. military said. Three children were also wounded.
Rocket attack on main US base in Afghanistan, no casualties
Press Trust of India Kabul, March 29, 2005|18:10 IST
Militants fired rockets at the largest US military base in Afghanistan but there were no casualties or damage, the military said today.
Two rockets landed near Bagram Air Field, about 50 kilometers north of Kabul, early yesterday, US military spokeswoman Lieutenant Cindy Moore told AFP.
Similar attacks in the past have been blamed on Afghanistan's ousted Islamic Taliban regime but Moore was unable to say who might have been behind the latest incident.
About 6,000 members of the 18,000-strong US-led coalition force in Afghanistan are stationed at Bagram, using it as a base for operations against militants in the south and southeast.
Russia plans anti-drug centre in Kabul to fight heroin production
MOSCOW, March 29 (AFP) - Russia is to extend its combat against heroin coming in from Afghanistan by opening an anti-drug centre in that country's capital Kabul, officials said here Tuesday.
The centre could be opened by the end of the year, the head of Russia's anti-narcotics service, Alexander Fedorov, told reporters. According to his service, 420 tonnes of heroin were produced in Afghanistan in 2004 and this year's output was expected to be even bigger, with most of the drugs making their way to Russia before being smuggled to western Europe.
Fedorov added that he hoped the recent revolution in Kyrgyzstan, a transit state for the drug, would lead to the new government there pursuing the anti-drug policies of the ousted administration.
Troops in Kyrgyzstan Focus on Afghanistan
Tue Mar 29, 2:12 PM ET By MARA D. BELLABY, Associated Press Writer
GANCI AIR BASE, Kyrgyzstan - When revolution hit the capital of Kyrgyzstan, U.S. soldiers at this nearby air base hunkered down and got on with their jobs — focusing on another troubled Central Asian country, Afghanistan
For the 800 U.S. troops providing support to planes and troops going in and out of Afghanistan, it was impossible to completely ignore the chaos that broke out in Kyrgyzstan after last week's forced ouster of its longtime leader.
Airman Scott McClain, with the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing, said he had barely heard of this ex-Soviet republic before being posted here. Now with the country making news back home in Pittsburgh, his family is worried.
"I had to reassure my kids that we are far away from all that," said McClain.
Ganci Air Base is only 19 miles northwest of the capital, Bishkek, where throngs of protesters stormed the presidential headquarters Thursday and forced longtime leader Askar Akayev to flee. But base commanders said they were determined to keep U.S. soldiers' attention on Afghanistan.
"Our mission is very focused," said Staff Sgt. Russ Martin of Los Angeles. He admits that when chaos and looting hit Bishkek, he was paying attention — albeit only online. "I clicked refresh on the Internet a lot," he said.
Ganci opened in 2001 on what was a bare field next to Bishkek's only international airport to work as a logistical hub supporting U.S.-led anti-terrorism operations in Afghanistan. It is named for Peter Ganci, the New York City fire chief who died in the World Trade Center attack on Sept. 11, 2001.
Russia opened its Kant air base, 12 miles east of Bishkek, in 2003 in what was seen as a response to the American presence.
Ganci's 37-acre compound is fenced off with a concrete wall topped by coiled razor wire and a warning sign with a drawing of a fierce-looking dog. Checkpoints dot the site, guarded by soldiers carrying M-16 rifles slung over their backs.
Security got even tighter after the protests started in southern Kyrgyzstan, their numbers swelling and eventually spreading north to the capital.
McClain counts himself lucky because he went on the last organized tour of Bishkek sites before the upheaval; outings have since been suspended.
As protesters stormed the presidential headquarters and looted stores, the U.S. base went into lockdown, keeping the 110 Kyrgyz workers in the mess hall overnight.
"We put in a long day," said Altynai Mukambetova, 23, who works in the cafeteria. "It was pretty scary — not in here, but thinking about what was happening out there."
While the base generally operates as an independent island, its isolation from Kyrgyzstan is not all-encompassing.
There are meetings between the base commander and officials from the nearby airport — the main point of entry and departure for civilian flights into Bishkek — several times a week, and the U.S. military says it makes efforts to reach out to the local community.
This weekend, children from a Kyrgyzstan orphanage are scheduled to visit for an Easter egg hunt. On a recent Kyrgyz holiday, soldiers got a chance to the national cuisine.
Not far from the base, goats and cows graze on the highway's median, and kiosks selling apples and bananas line the streets. Overhead, the cavernous C-17 cargo plane and the KC-135 refueling jet — the U.S. military's workhorses — sweep across the sky.
Despite the base's location on a dusty, wind-swept field facing the snowcapped Ala-Too mountains, the soldiers say there is plenty to remind them of home. Soldiers knock around a volleyball on a sand court and drink their regulation two beers — Russian brands — at Pete's Cafe. And they tap home lots of e-mails.
Most soldiers, who typically serve a four-month tour, count the days until they can leave. Then they'll slip into their civilian clothes, carry their bags into Pete's and plop down their dollars for a long-awaited souvenir: vodka. It's sold only to soldiers headed home.
Leon Longstreth, 23, from Cincinnati, will soon be one of the lucky ones. A member of the Fort Campbell, Ky.-based 551st MP Company, Longstreth came to Kyrgyzstan on Monday night from Afghanistan, and is waiting for a flight to the United States.
He had heard of the uprising in Kyrgyzstan, but flying straight into Ganci base, he wasn't worried.
"I can tell you this," he said. "It's a lot nicer than Afghanistan."
News Analysis By Victor Morales / VOA News (Voice of America) Washington, D.C. / 28 March 2005
Three years after allied forces routed the ruling Taliban, living conditions in Afghanistan rank near the bottom of the 178 countries surveyed by the United Nations. According to the National Human Development Report, Afghanistan is just ahead of the poorest sub-Saharan African countries.
This first comprehensive look at Afghan life in three decades paints a "gloomy picture," concedes President Hamid Karzai. The country has the worst education system in the world with an adult literacy rate of less than 30%. Maternal mortality is 60 time higher than in most developed countries. One in eight children dies because of contaminated water; 20% of all children die before the age of five. Those who survive can expect to live less than 45 years.
But Barnett Rubin, Director of the Center for International Cooperation at New York University, says even though the U.N. report is one of dire poverty, the fact that the survey was even conducted is a sign of progress.
"It shows first of all, that you now have an Afghan government that cares about these problems and is trying to address them and that it is now mobilizing the skills and commitment of Afghans themselves to do that," says Professor Rubin. "So those are all tremendously positive developments. But of course, the report documents how big the challenges are that Afghans and the new Afghan government have to meet."
One of the biggest challenges facing the country is illegal drugs. Almost all of the poppies used to make heroin are grown in Afghanistan. Although growth of the legal economy is expected to be at least 10% per year for the next decade, illicit drugs still account for nearly 60% of Afghanistan's gross domestic product.
In order to transcend the drug economy, Afghan specialist Barnett Rubin says the government must reestablish the foundations of free market capitalism.
"It has to be able to provide security so people know that if they make some money, some warlord or commander isn't going to just come along and grab control of their enterprise," says Professor Rubin. "It has to have a legal system that can resolve disputes and enforce contracts. It has to have secure land titles and transparency of operations so that corrupt government officials don't also stand in the way of businessmen."
There's near universal agreement among scholars that rebuilding Afghanistan's economy and establishing democratic institutions must go hand in hand. Last year, a new constitution was adopted and the country held its first free presidential election. And parliamentary elections have been announced for September. But armed warlords throughout much of the country still threaten peace, stability and economic progress.
Years of battling a Soviet invasion, factional violence and harsh Taliban rule have left Afghanistan wrecked and impoverished. That's why foreign policy analyst Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute says Afghans will be forced to rely on massive foreign assistance at least in the near term.
"There's a huge amount to do to recreate an infrastructure in Afghanistan, real basic things like roads, school buildings, electricity, pure water and all of the rest of that stuff," notes Mr. Donnelly. "For the next couple of years, this is a case where the classic models of international development actually are quite worthwhile as long as we don't try to tell the Afghans how to run their government."
Researcher Daud Saba, one of the authors of the U.N. Human Development Report, agrees. Although Mr. Saba points out that Afghans are grateful for the billions of dollars of international aid that have poured into his country during the past three years, he stresses that Afghans should have more say in how that aid is directed.
"Afghans need to be given a chance to participate in decision making through democratic mechanisms which are still lacking in the country," says Mr. Saba. "It has to be coordinated with Afghans and among the donors, and giving the leadership to Afghans to find out what their needs are and to participate in the design of the programs and to solve their problems."
Afghanistan's standard of living is slowly improving. For example, the United Nations reports that vaccination programs may soon eradicate measles and polio. And two-thirds of the country's children now attend school, including girls who were denied an education under the Taliban.
Whether this country of 28-million people will emerge from decades of violence and poverty, most analysts say, will depend not only on support from the international community but also on the Afghan people's determination to nurture their fledgling democracy.
Coalition Medically Evacuates 2 Children
Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan Coalition Press Information Center (Public Affairs) March 29, 2005
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — Coalition military forces transported two Afghan children by aircraft for medical care Sunday.
A 16-year-old Afghan boy was medically evacuated to Asadabad for treatment for a gunshot wound in his chest.
“He was released from Coalition care today,” a medical spokesperson said. “It was a clean wound. The patient was given antibiotics and medication, then released to his parents’ care.”
A 6-year-old girl with second-degree burns on 30 percent of her body was medically evacuated to Bagram Airfield. She is currently in guarded condition.
In March so far, the Coalition has medically evacuated 57 Afghan patients for a variety of injuries and illnesses.
The US comes out fighting with F-16s
By Kaushik Kapisthalam / Asia Times Online / March 29, 2005
Islamabad is elated, India is miffed: the decision by the United States to sell F-16 strike fighters to Pakistan involves much more than a simple sale of arms - important geostrategic undercurrents are at play involving not only the Indian sub-continent, but also China.
Last Friday, Sanjaya Baru, spokesman for India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, announced that US President George W Bush had informed Singh of the American decision to go ahead with the sale of nuclear-capable Lockheed-Martin F-16 strike fighter aircraft to Pakistan. The spokesman also noted that the Indian leader conveyed to Bush India's "great disappointment" and a message that this move could have "negative consequences for India's security environment".
A few hours later, Bush administration officials in Washington and elsewhere added more details to the report, confirming that the mandatory notification to Congress had been sent. Washington sources say that Congress is unlikely to object to this deal. Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced in Islamabad that the US had essentially offered an unlimited number of F-16s, and that the aircraft would be the newer C and D versions (Block 50/52) which are more than a generation ahead of Pakistan's current F-16 fleet. Ahmed also noted that the Pakistan Air Force leadership would soon decide on the quantity to request. Industry sources say that Pakistan may initially order about 24 planes, with an option to buy a significantly larger number in a few years. Pakistan's current fleet of about 32 F-16s is also likely to be upgraded.
To most South Asia observers, this decision was not a surprise. Getting advanced F-16s and a package to upgrade its existing old F-16 fleet has always been on the Pakistani wish list since President General Pervez Musharraf joined the US-led coalition against terrorism in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks. With intense media speculation in the preceding weeks, most news watchers felt a sense of inevitability about the F-16 sale.
As noted above, India's official reaction has been one of disappointment. However, the Indian Foreign Ministry convened a midnight press conference on Friday night to spin the F-16 story. Spokesman Navtej Sarna noted that during his conversation with Singh, Bush offered a significant upgrade of India-US strategic ties. Reports indicate that the US has offered F/A-18 Hornet fighter planes to India, which are considered to be more advanced than F-16s.
But many Indian strategists and former senior officials are not so sanguine. Some note that the US has essentially offered a tangible weapons system to Pakistan, while offering some nice-sounding promises to India, which may or may not develop into real gains. Noting that one of the items seemingly on offer was the sale of American nuclear power plants to India, one observer asked - "Will Ms [Condoleezza] Rice and her staff be willing to do the heavy lifting in Congress and within the numerous non-proliferation agencies within the American bureaucracy to get approval for this? I don't think so." India has energy needs now that cannot be fulfilled by mere talks, he added.
Some reports also suggest similar feelings in private in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). The Hindu newspaper quoted unnamed MEA officials as saying, "It is possible that some of the promises may be transformed into reality. But at this point, one cannot give them the benefit of the doubt. Only tangible outcomes count, and that is the transfer of the [F-16] planes to Islamabad."
Interestingly, wire reports mention that the US had offered the F-16 fighters to India as well, though a State Department official speaking on the background said that it was up to India to decide if they wanted to buy the F-16s, F/A-18s or aircraft from other countries. Few Indian defense specialists believe that there is any chance of India buying fighter aircraft from the US, however. A report in the Times of India earlier in March quoted Indian Air Force officials as saying that there were too many logistical and political barriers for the F-16s to be considered seriously, even though they are officially on the list of choices for the purpose of a transparent tender process.
There are others in the Indian strategic community, however, who reject this type of reaction. G Parthasarathy, former Indian ambassador to Pakistan, was quoted as saying, "India cannot ignore the first-ever US offer of co-production of a major weapons system and platform and expanding cooperation in nuclear energy and space." Dr Anupam Srivastava, executive director of the South Asia Program of the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia and an expert on India-US relations, concurs with this view, noting that the very fact that an American administration had offered to discuss the sale of nuclear energy technology was significant, and that such a move would have been nearly impossible in recent years.
Some Indian and American observers feel that announcing the approval of F-16s to Pakistan sends ambiguous signals to the Pakistani leadership. They note that given the track record of Musharraf, it is likely that he will harden his stance in the ongoing peace negotiations with India.
Dr Peter Lavoy, director of the Center for Contemporary Conflict at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterrey, California, cautioned against reading too much into the F-16 sale announcement. He commented that there was an increasing sense within the US administration that the Pakistan Air Force was far behind India in terms of military capability, and bolstering it with a small number of F-16s could create more stability in South Asia. It can be argued that a Pakistani military that feels more secure with conventional weapons is less likely to resort to using nuclear weapons, he maintained. Lavoy also noted that at a political level, the sale of F-16s brought closure to a long chapter of mistrust and disappointment in Pakistan, referring to the American move to block a contracted transfer of F-16s in 1991 over suspicions of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.
Indian and some Western strategic analysts have a different take on this point. One former senior Indian official noted to this correspondent that he did not agree with the American position that 30 to 40 F-16s were unlikely to upset India's military position vis-a-vis Pakistan. He said that such an argument missed the point: "When it comes to provoking a war with India, Pakistan has depended more on what it perceives it can get away with rather than what its war-fighting abilities really are." The argument here is that the F-16s need not arrive in Pakistan for Musharraf and other Pakistani military leaders to consider taking aggressive military actions in the disputed Kashmir region. Observers caution that Pakistani leaders are unlikely to interpret the F-16 deal in any manner other than as a reiteration of Pakistan's indispensability to Washington.
Another Western analyst, who has visited Pakistan many times, noted to this author that soon after Indian troops backed off war threats in 2002, Pakistani officials were thankful for the American role in diffusing the crisis without Pakistani loss of face. However, he was shocked that during a later meeting with senior Pakistani army officers he found that they had coaxed themselves into believing that it was India's "cowardice" that led to their pull-back. The analyst also noted with alarm that many senior Pakistani military strategists still subscribe to the theory that Pakistanis are a "superior martial race" as opposed to the largely Hindu Indian army, which they perceive to be innately weak in resolve. The expert noted that with such attitudes, all the Pakistanis need is a small fillip to their morale and a perception of their being indispensable to American interests in order to start another military adventure with India. "At the very least, major weapons sales could spur the Pakistanis to be more aggressive with the use of jihadi groups in Kashmir," the expert maintained.
There are already signs of this hardening of Pakistani stance. Speaking to Pakistani Air Force cadets within hours of the F-16 announcement, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz stated that while Pakistan wanted peace with its neighbors, "peace can be achieved through force". On Sunday there were reports that Musharraf had noted in response to an email query to his website that India had to resolve the Kashmir dispute "if it wants to avoid more Kargils", referring to the 1999 Pakistani intrusion into Indian-controlled Kashmir that brought the region to the brink of full-scale war.
Some Indian observers expressed their anger that the American government displayed poor timing, either inadvertently or by design, in announcing the F-16 sale at this juncture. "We have Musharraf visiting New Delhi for talks and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on a planned state visit that is set to herald a new era in Indo-Chinese ties. Couldn't the Americans have waited a few more days, especially given that they had seemingly made up their mind a good while ago regarding the [F-16] sale?," fumed a former Indian diplomat.
The China angle
Interestingly, there are indications that the US decision to offer F-16s to Pakistan may affect that country's close ties with China. Pakistan watchers have long pointed out the existence of "pro-US" and "pro-China" lobbies within the Pakistani military establishment. "For decades, Pakistani military leaders, especially in the air force, have considered American weapons as the only ones good enough to be the spear-tip of Pakistani military capability," a Pakistan-watcher asserted, and added further, "Since the American sanctions, the pro-American officers had been losing the argument with the China-friendly ones within the Pakistani Air Force. This [F-16] gift turns the situation on its head."
As if to confirm this, in a radio program on Friday, Pakistan's Information Minister Ahmed noted that the JF-17 fighter that China was developing in cooperation with Pakistan had recently faced uncertainties regarding its engine and other components. Officially, the JF-17, or the FC-1 as it is known in China, is equipped with an engine from Russia's Klimov Corporation. But reports from authoritative sources like Jane's Defence Weekly note that Russia has not granted permission for China to equip export versions of the FC-1 with Klimov engines. Other reports have noted that Pakistan Air Force officials expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of Chinese avionics and radar systems, preferring European-made systems. However, given the uncertainty in the lifting of the European Union's weapons embargo on China, it is not clear if China will be able to obtain source codes for European sub-systems to be able to integrate them with a Chinese plane.
On India's part, the F-16 deal could lead to a sidelining of those who are favorable to the idea that India could be part of an American-led alliance in Asia to contain China's rapid rise to superpower status. There are reports that India will sign a "friendship treaty" with China where premier Wen makes his four-day visit to the country, with verbiage "to ensure that New Delhi does not become part of any anti-China alliance". Wen's visit is also expected to result in a treaty to set the framework for resolving the lingering India-China border dispute, and also some significant trade-related agreements, including a free trade agreement, which would be unprecedented in terms of the sheer commercial volume between the two Asian giants.
This is bound to displease the conservative elements in the Bush administration, who are slowly coming around to the idea to treat China as a strategic competitor, and who have embarked on efforts with the European Union and Japan to contain China's military expansion. "India has nothing to gain by ganging up against China, when the US is insensitive to India's security interests," an Indian analyst said. The analyst added that India would be under no illusion that Pakistan's "evergreen friendship" with China would weaken, but pointed out that the Chinese were not going to miss the significance of closer Pakistan-US ties and the potential negative implications for China. "Beijing is not going to like the idea of permanent American bases in Pakistan, maybe even near Chinese territory. Also, China is bound to be suspicious of a permanent American naval presence at a time when it is trying to get a foothold in that region with its participation in the construction of Gwadar port in Pakistan."
By this dramatic offering of weapons to Pakistan and increased strategic ties with India, the US may have displayed its "high card" in terms of the geopolitical poker game in the region. But it appears that India can still one-up this move if it plays its cards right.
Kaushik Kapisthalam is a freelance defense and strategic affairs analyst based in the United States.
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