Former president Hamid Karzai insisted Wednesday that Afghanistan would not allow itself to become the battleground in a proxy war between India and Pakistan after the imminent departure of US-led troops. Speaking in New Delhi, Karzai angrily rejected warnings by his one-time counterpart in Islamabad Pervez Musharraf that India and Pakistan could coopt allies among Afghanistan’s main ethnic groups to effectively wage war against each other, saying such claims were “hurtful”.
“Of course Afghanistan will not allow a proxy war between Pakistan and India,” Karzai said in an address to a thinktank, saying he was “sure” India wouldn’t allow such a scenario either. In an AFP interview earlier this week, Musharraf warned that Pakistan would look to use ethnic Pashtuns to counter if India tries to achieve its goal of creating an “anti-Pakistan Afghanistan”.
“If Indians are using some elements of the ethnic entities in Afghanistan, then Pakistan will use its own support for ethnic elements, and our ethnic elements are certainly Pashtuns,” the former general said ahead of the pullout later this year of Nato combat troops after 13 years. But Karzai said any suggestion that Pashtuns would do Pakistan’s bidding was “hurtful” and an insult to Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group. “That was a very unfortunate remark,” said Karzai, who is himself a Pashtun. “Afghanistan has a history of 5,000 years. Saying that Pashtuns will be used as a tool is insulting to Pashtuns, insulting to the people of Afghanistan.”