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Home / India / After guns for Kabul, roses for Pakistan

After guns for Kabul, roses for Pakistan

Ambushing or adventurist, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has broadcast his reason for visiting Lahore and meeting Nawaz Sharif in his den: shortly before leaving Kabul, he tweeted a photograph of himself, in a bandhgala, with Afghanistan CEO Abdullah Abdullah against the backdrop of a Mi-25 helicopter gunship.

SUJAN DUTTA   |   Published 26.12.15, 12:00 AM

Narendra Modi and Abdullah Abdullah (fourth from left) in front of Mi-25 helicopter gunship. (AFP)

New Delhi, Dec. 25: Ambushing or adventurist, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has broadcast his reason for visiting Lahore and meeting Nawaz Sharif in his den: shortly before leaving Kabul, he tweeted a photograph of himself, in a bandhgala, with Afghanistan CEO Abdullah Abdullah against the backdrop of a Mi-25 helicopter gunship.

That chopper was in the Indian Air Force squadron known as the Firebirds till yesterday. It landed in Kabul today, armed with rocket pods and a medium machine gun - India's first gift of a lethal system to Afghanistan.

If you send guns to Afghanistan, you must carry roses to Pakistan. Afghanistan is Pakistan's backyard.

A half-hour or so later, in the time taken to change from the black bandhgala to the red Nehru jacket, Modi landed in Lahore, once again in an Indian Air Force plane, a Boeing Business Jet, from the headquarters' communications squadron.

In inviting the Indian Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif has cut out the army. In accepting the invite, Prime Minister Modi has cut out the bureaucracy. The meeting was planned carefully.

The Pakistan GHQ in Rawalpindi has always opposed Indian supplies to Afghanistan.

In the two terms of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the best he could do to aid Hamid Karzai in his fight against the Taliban was to gift buses and jeeps. Karzai visited New Delhi half-a-dozen times with a shopping list for arms - helicopters, rifles, rocket-launchers. New Delhi looked the other way, being too polite to say "no" to his face.

That policy is overturned. The sight of an Indian Prime Minister against a Russian-origin Indian Air Force gunship in Kabul is a nightmare for the GHQ. Pakistan's security establishment is panicky about Indian forces operating from behind its lines.

Indications are New Delhi did not want Islamabad to react knee-jerk to the Afghan gift. Modi decided therefore to visit Raiwind, Sharif's home. Sharif was also the Prime Minister of Pakistan when General Pervez Musharraf, then Pakistan army chief, executed the Kargil war of 1999.

Three days back, on December 22, the Indian high commission in Islamabad was sending out invites for a Christmas lunch. The next day, the high commission cancelled the programme. All diplomats were required to be in Lahore. Now we know why.



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