KABUL — Across Afghanistan, behind the obvious battles fought for this country’s soul, a shadow war is being quietly waged. It’s being fought with spies and proxies, with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money and ominous diplomatic threats.
The fight pits nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan against one another in a battle for influence that will almost certainly gain traction as the clock ticks down toward America’s military withdrawal, which President Barack Obama has announced will begin next year.
The clash has already sparked bloody militant attacks, and American officials fear the region could become further destabilized. With Pakistani intelligence maintaining ties to Afghanistan’s Taliban militants, India has threatened to draw Iran, Russia and other nations into the competition if an anti-Indian government comes to power in Kabul.