(This was originally posted in Times Of India by Indrani Bagchi)
CIA chief Bill Burns flew into India on Tuesday for consultations on key security issues with national security adviser Ajit Doval and India’s security establishment even as the Taliban announced their interim government in Kabul. The conversation centred on terrorism, largely from Pakistan, as well as the way forward on Afghanistan.
The visit, which was under wraps, came on the same day the Russian NSA Nikolay Patrushev began his visit, also for consultations on Afghanistan. Burns is apparently going to Islamabad from here on Wednesday.
Burns’ visit highlights the growing security concerns for India and US, both in the regional and global context as the Taliban swept into power in Kabul. On Tuesday, as the Taliban flew their flag in Panjshir valley, protests broke out in Kabul, Mazar-e-Sharif and even Zaranj against the Taliban and what they said was “outside interference” by Pakistan. It is widely believed that the Taliban government is a deal struck between the various Taliban factions, brokered by the Pakistan ISI chief Faiz Hameed, who arrived in Kabul on Monday.
The Taliban government announced Sirajuddin Haqqani — designated global terrorist — as interior minister. A number of the Taliban leadership are tagged by the UNSC as terrorists. In fact, India chairs the UNSC committee that will decide on the Taliban sanctions in the coming weeks.