Herat consulate attack aimed at scuttling Nawaz Sharif`s India visit?

Reports suggested on Saturday that the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat, in western Afghanistan, may be linked to the Indian PM-designate Narendra Modi`s invitation to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend his swearing-in.

Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal

New Delhi: Reports suggested on Saturday that the attack on the Indian consulate in Herat, in western Afghanistan, may be linked to the Indian PM-designate Narendra Modi`s invitation to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend his swearing-in.

Friday`s attack by the Taliban came on a day when Sharif was due to decide on his India visit. That decision has still not been taken yet.

Modi, after being appointed as the PM by President Pranab Mukherjee, had sent out invitations to the heads of government of all SAARC nations to attend his swearing-in ceremony on May 26. The move was seen as a gesture by the new PM to improve ties with all neighbours.
However, the invites seem to have ruffled feathers across the border where hawkish elements are perceived to be against any normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan.

It is an open secret that the Taliban enjoys support from several quarters in Pakistan.

The consulate attack also reminds Modi of the challenges his incoming government faces as regards India`s immediate neighbourhood.

The government yesterday issued a statement, blaming the "cowardly" attack on Pakistan-backed terror groups operating in Afghanistan.
"The main threat to Afghanistan and its peace and stability and security stems from terrorism beyond its borders," the statement read.

The attack came amid indications from Islamabad that PM Sharif was keen to attend Modi`s swearing-in and that a positive decision could be taken very soon in this regard.

Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed had already issued a warning to Sharif saying his India visit would be seen as a betrayal of the Kashmir cause.

"What will you (Sharif) answer the Kashmiris if you go to India?" Saeed said.

It remains to be seen whether Sharif accepts Modi`s invitation to come to India, but the Herat attack will surely play on the Pak PM`s mind when he does take the decision.

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