Islamabad: India training Afghan security forces as part of the Kabul-Delhi accord "has the potential to increase mistrust in the region", said a leading Pakistani daily on Thursday.
India and Afghanistan on Tuesday signed a major strategic cooperation pact and discussed ways to step up cooperation to jointly combat terror emanating from across the border.
An editorial in the Dawn said: "While there has been limited Indian training of Afghan security forces in the past, the specific mention of it in the agreement indicates an intention to step it up significantly. This has the potential to increase mistrust in the region..."
It said that the past few weeks had been frenzied for the region.
"Pakistan`s relations with America had barely hit another roadblock over the Haqqani network when (Afghanistan) President (Hamid) Karzai issued statements after the assassination of Burhanuddin Rabbani describing Pakistan as a stumbling block for peace in Afghanistan.
"Now comes the signing between India and Afghanistan of what the two countries are calling a Strategic Partnership Agreement."
The editorial said the timing of the pact`s announcement "turns it into a signal from President Karzai to Pakistan that he has other friends in the region".
Though Karzai said the agreement will not affect ties with Pakistan, "but given the region`s dynamics there is no doubt it will raise eyebrows among the establishment here and possibly lead to ill-advised efforts to ramp up Pakistani involvement in Afghanistan as well", the editorial observed.
It said India is already the largest regional donor to Afghanistan, but "this does not seem to be a routine diplomatic celebration of friendly ties".
The agreement is a wide-ranging one that specifies trade initiatives and Indian assistance for development, education, and Afghan government capacity-building, as well as political and security collaboration, including training and equipment for the Afghan National Security Forces, regular political contact, and cooperation at the UN.
It went on to say that this agreement adds to the impression that "regional players are beginning to shape their respective alliances in a part of the world whose future seems increasingly unpredictable".
The editorial said that this diplomatic manoeuvring should also be a sign for Pakistan that it needs to reassure Kabul "it will not seek to use Afghanistan for strategic depth to the detriment of that country, and instead is simply concerned that Afghan territory not be used against it".