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Rocket attack on Indian mission in Kabul; Ghani accuses Pak of launching undeclared war

Ashok Tuteja | New Delhi |

Even as Afghan President Ashraf Ghani declared that his country faced "an undeclared war of aggression from Pakistan", insurgent groups yet again targeted Indian interests in Kabul on Tuesday with a rocket landing on the tennis court of Indian envoy Manpreet Vohra’s house.

Sources in New Delhi said no injury had been reported in the rocket attack on ‘India House’, which occurred around 11.15 a. m. hours local time (12.15 IST) even as the authorities in the Afghan capital were grappling with the aftermath of the massive suicide bombing last Wednesday which left more than 150 people dead, making it the worst terror attack in Kabul since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001. Apart from the Indian ambassador, other mission personnel also stay in the compound of the heavily guarded ‘India House’, which is close to several embassies and NATO’s ‘Resolute Support’ headquarters.

Indian officials heaved a sigh of relief that no damage was caused to life or property in Tuesday's rocket attack but acknowledged that the incident has again highlighted the need for further beefing up the security of Indian assets in the embattled nation.

The rocket attack coincided with the ‘Kabul Process’ meet in which representatives of nearly 25 countries, including India, participated. This is the first of its kind international meeting being held at the initiative of the Afghan President aimed at bringing the prolonged conflict in Afghanistan to an end.

Inaugurating the meet, President Ghani extended an olive branch to the Taliban, saying he would allow the insurgent group to open an office if it was prepared to join peace negotiations. He, however, made it clear that this was the last chance for the Taliban to join peace talks.

While emphasising that Afghanistan wanted to build strong economic and political ties with all its neighbours, he came down heavily on Islamabad for launching an "undeclared war" on Afghanistan. ‘’What will it take to convince Pakistan that a stable Afghanistan helps them and helps our region? Our problem, our challenge, is that we cannot figure out what it is that Pakistan wants,” he said.

His statement came after the Afghan Interior Ministry confirmed that the explosives used in lastWednesday’s bombing were from Pakistan. The Afghan authorities believe that Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) supplied the Haqqani network with explosives to conduct the bombing.

Observers said even though President Ghani has been successful in his foreign policy, there are major lapses within the Afghan government that have not been addressed. For example, the security sector is one major institution of the government that has suffered badly from all-pervasive corruption. Due to unprofessional leadership, Afghan forces lost a record number of soldiers in the ongoing war last year. Former Mujahideen and ethnic leaders have continued to dominate the military, intelligence and police, hence failing to foil terror attacks.