|The Taliban's brutal slaughter of Maniappan Raman Kutty, a poor Keralite driver working with the Border Roads Organisation, is a message to India to withdraw from Afghanistan, feel some analysts.
The analysts have rightly advised the Indian government to not to be intimidated by this blackmail. They have suggested India continue helping the Hamid Karzai government in its reconstruction programme, while strengthening physical security for Indian personnel deployed in Afghan territory.
Where I disagree with them is about the origin of this blackmail.
It is not a message from the Taliban as they have contended, but it is a message from Pakistan through the Taliban.
The message is: Don't get unduly involved in Afghanistan, particularly in the southern parts of the country bordering the Pakistani province of Balochistan, where the independence movement shows no signs of petering out despite the Pervez Musharraf government's brutal measures of suppression.
Ever since India started sending its reconstruction personnel to the interior areas of Afghanistan, particularly in southern Afghanistan and in the Herat area bordering Iran, the Pakistan government -- including Musharraf himself -- and the jihadi terrorist organisations have been repeatedly criticising the presence of Indian personnel in this area.
Insinuations have been repeatedly made that many of these personnel are actually Indian intelligence and security agency officers sent to train alleged Baloch 'terrorists'.
In a television interview on Wednesday night, our minister of state for external affairs has, unfortunately, provided added ammunition to these anti-India elements by saying that the Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel are protecting BRO staff sent to this area.
The Pakistan Army, like its Chinese counterpart, hates the ITBP. The brave ITBP jawans have in the past proved themselves to be more than a match for the Pakistani and Chinese security forces.
The minister's statement that some ITBP personnel have been deployed in southern Afghanistan to protect BRO personnel is likely to act as a red rag to the bull, increasing the chances of more attacks on Indian personnel.
According to the minister, the Indian government, on coming to know of Kutty's kidnapping, had immediately sought the intervention of the Karzai government, foreign embassies in Kabul and Afghan tribal leaders.
The government's action gives a disturbing indication of the extent to which it is out of touch with the ground realities relating to terrorism in general, and Afghanistan in particular.
What are the ground realities, you might well ask.
The Karzai government has very little control over southern and eastern Afghanistan. The Taliban, al Qaeda and Hizbe Islami remnants -- operating from sanctuaries in and around Quetta, Pakistan -- have stepped up their activities in this region since March. They have killed a large number of Afghan government troops, policemen and an increasing number of American soldiers.
The Taliban remnants -- operating from sanctuaries in Pakistan -- had also shot down a US Army helicopter in the area bordering Pakistan earlier this year.
'Since March, Afghanistan has been slowly sliding back into a state of anarchy and lawlessness due to the re-infiltration of terrorists belonging to the al Qaeda and the Taliban from sanctuaries in Pakistan.'
Even if the Karzai government had wanted to, it would not have been able to be of any effective assistance in this area.
It is very well known that all the surviving members of the Taliban leadership -- including its Amir, Mulla Mohammad Omer, and its spokesman -- operate from sanctuaries provided by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence in the Quetta area and not from Afghan territory.
Since the Taliban leadership looks upon Karzai as an American quisling who has to be eliminated, it was futile to have expected him to intervene.
Karzai himself has been repeatedly saying in public about the activities of these elements from Pakistani sanctuaries and it is, therefore, surprising that he did not advise the Indian government to take up the matter with Islamabad, which can alone control them.
Since Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's US visit in July, the Taliban and al Qaeda have stepped up their propaganda against India.
I had written on August 13: 'Reports from well-informed sources in Balochistan say that Musharraf has made a deal with the al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Hizbe Islami, under which he has promised not to interfere with their activities from their sanctuaries in Pakistani territory in return for their refraining from any terrorist attacks against him or in Pakistani territory.
'For the last about 10 months, there has been no major terrorist attack, barring the periodic anti-Shia strikes, in Pakistani territory attributable to these organisations. The first references to India in the messages of the al Qaeda and its leaders starte