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How the Afghanistan war became tangled in India vs. Pakistan rivalry

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In the end, Pakistan wants a friendly government in Kabul, and friendship is defined in reference to India.

"They are two sovereign countries, India and Afghanistan, and they have the right to have good relations. But what we are saying is that their relations should not be at the cost of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, or in any way harm Pakistan's interests," says Abdul Basit, the spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry.

Pakistan worries about having to defend both its eastern and western borders if India and Afghanistan grow too close. Pakistan has also alleged that India uses its consulates in Afghanistan to conduct espionage, stirring up antigovernment forces in Pakistan's frontier regions.

Verging on paranoia

Sometimes the Pakistani fears verge on paranoia, says Marvin Weinbaum, an Afghan expert at the Middle East Institute in Washington.

"I've had Pakistani diplomats tell me, 'You know, there are 15 [Indian] consulates,'" he says. (There are four.) "When you press them on it, they say that, in effect, this is our line," suggesting that they sometimes fabricate in order to have some bargaining leverage.

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