Today’s attacks in Kabul, killing at least 17 and wounding around 40, are significant for a number of reasons. The Taliban have been under pressure in the US-led military operation around Marjah in Helmand province and in Pakistan. The Kabul attacks are intended to draw the attention from the areas of pressure in the south. These attacks also demonstrate that the Afghan capital remains vulnerable, even after the much publicized American military surge in the country. By promptly claiming responsibility, the Taliban have warned President Karzai, who recently staged a political coup by his unilateral action to take full control of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Complaints Commission when parliament was in recess. Until now, the commission had three of its five members appointed by the Western donors and the body had been harsh in its criticism of fraud in the presidential election. President Karzai will now appoint all five members.
The targeting of Indian hostels is significant because India is the leading regional donor to the Afghan government, with over a billion dollar investment and at least 4000 Indians working in Afghanistan. And the attacks came just after a brief round of talks between India and Pakistan in Delhi. America has been urging them both to reduce tensions and Pakistan to concentrate on the fight against its domestic insurgency and in Afghanistan.