New Delhi: In a significant move India reclaimed some strategic space in its embattled neighbourhood when on Tuesday it signed a wide ranging security, political and cultural partnership pact with Afghanistan. Both nations have agreed to step up cooperation in counterterrorism operations and training of security forces and boost trade.
The strategic agreement is the first such partnership Kabul has entered into with any country.
On the sidelines, security experts said the move had the potential to antagonize Pakistan at a critical juncture in the Afghanistan war.
The agreement was signed by Afghan president Hamid Karzai at the start of a two-day visit to India. India has pledged its help in stabilizing Afghanistan as the country battles rising extremist violence and prepares for the withdrawal of US-led troops in 2014.
The pact coincides with an intense downswing in relations between Kabul, Islamabad and the International Security Assistance Forces based in Afghanistan.
Afghan and ISAF officials have openly accused Pakistan of supporting recent high-profile attacks in their country.