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Oct 8, 2009 | 15:39 GMT

Afghanistan: Regional Implications of a Second Attack on the Indian Embassy

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
An official spokesperson for the Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility Oct. 8 for a bomb that targeted the Indian Embassy in Kabul and killed 17 people, wounding 76 others. This is the second attack on the main Indian diplomatic post in Afghanistan since July 2008, when a bomb killed 58 people, including two senior Indian diplomats. No Indian Embassy personnel were injured in the Oct. 8 attack. As was the case in the 2008 suicide bombing, the Oct. 8 attack will likely be linked to militants based in Pakistan and there will also be likely connections made to elements within Islamabad's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate. The attack gives credence to the U.S. position and weakens the case of the Pakistani military regarding the Kerry-Lugar Bill. But more importantly, the bombing has the potential of creating problems between India and Pakistan. The attack came less than 24 hours after the Pakistani military's central command issued a statement criticizing the Kerry-Lugar Bill, which says that Pakistan is a launch pad for militant groups conducting attacks in Afghanistan and India. The bill also says that the U.S. secretary of state would have to periodically certify that this was not the case in order for Islamabad to continue receiving a multibillion-dollar aid package. The text of the bill specifically mentions two Pakistani cities: Muridke, located on the northeastern border with India, where the most prominent Kashmiri militant Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) is based; and Quetta, located on the southwestern border with Afghanistan, reportedly where the Mullah Mohammad Omar-led Afghan Taliban leadership council is based. Tensions between Pakistan and India are already high from last year's Nov. 26 attacks in Mumbai, which were carried out by the Pakistan-based LeT. Recently, Pakistan was able to relieve some of the pressure from New Delhi after it launched a major offensive against its own Taliban rebels and enhanced cooperation with the United States in the hunt for al Qaeda-led transnational jihadists. The Oct. 8 attack on the Embassy will allow the Indians to regain the initiative in this dispute — they had been frustrated that the Pakistanis were using the war against the Taliban in their own borders to avoid having to do much against anti-India militants. Pakistan is thus likely to come under renewed pressure from both the United States and India.
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Afghanistan: Regional Implications of a Second Attack on the Indian Embassy
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