It does not take long for great powers to develop more than one point of interest once they have entered an area of strategic significance. It would therefore be fanciful to imagine an America-free Afghanistan in the foreseeable future. “All this blood and treasure was spent for what?” some Americans will ask. Also the chant in Kabul once was “We must remain in the vicinity to keep a watch on the world’s only Muslim nuclear state.”

Are the Americans likely to walk away simply because they are exasperated? After having spent a trillion dollars, losing thousands of lives, losing face – so soon after their reversal in Syria – are they really contemplating withdrawal? Will the bosses of UNOCAL suck their thumbs now? Will the priceless poppy fields of Helmand, the oil in the North, the unexplored mineral wealth now become a Russian asset?

“Starting with the national security adviser to the prime minister of India, senior U.S. national security officials should begin to discuss options for significantly expanded counterterror cooperation with their Indian counterparts, up to and including the possibility of basing U.S. military and/or intelligence operatives in India to address Pakistan-based terrorist threats in a post-Afghanistan context. These conversations would be politically sensitive, so they should begin only after the next Indian government is elected in the spring……”

Two separate developments on the Indian political scene in last few days has given rise to a lot of uncomfortable questions (regarding illegal surveillance/phone tapping and the Indian government’s eagerness to please the US administration) that must be asked.

The first development being the revelation of the contents of a Cabinet Committee on Security note which reportedly exposes UPA government’s attempts to dilute the Nuclear Liability Bill to suit the interests of the US administration. And the second one is the alleged smear campaign against former Army Chief General VK Singh over a secretive surveillance unit during his tenure.

The interesting detail that should not be overlooked is this: even as Messrs McChrystal and Petreaus were talking “withdrawal” in 2011, Karzai had already contrived an extension until 2014. Karzai established his indispensability at a time when the Western media had written him off as “not even the mayor of Kabul” one “whose writ does not run beyond the Presidential palace”.

If there was no consistent American stand on withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2010, why should we be convinced that the 2014 deadline is cast in stone?