The terrorists seem to have outdone themselves. There has been a suicide bombing in Islamabad, which has mainly struck at policemen, then at the Indian embassy in Kabul, and then a series of blasts in Karachi, which have taken no lives, but have left the nation's industrial, financial and trading capital scared. The accusations have flown thick and fast. Afghanistan has lost no time in accusing Pakistan's ISI of being behind the Kabul blasts, and there has been some talk of the Karachi blasts either being the work of the agencies, the motive being to keep Pervez Musharraf in power, or of Afghan intelligence. The latter view appears to accept the Kabul blast as a piece of ISI work, but does not, for Afghan intelligence may have gone ahead with the Karachi blast even though the Kabul blast was not ISI work. There is nowhere the possibility floated that the Islamabad blasts had an Afghan connection, though it is always logistically easier for Afghan intelligence to strike inside nearby Islamabad than far-off Karachi, even factoring in the necessary assistance from India. The logic of the situation demands that Afghanistan be involved, so that the Great Game may continue. After all, Afghanistan is very much part of the Great Game, as are both Pakistan and India, as the successor states of Britain, which started the Great Game as part of its policy towards the policing of both Asia and the Czarist empire. Modern Afghanistan is not very different from the state which the British dominated that, until the 1920 Treaty of Rawalpindi, they were formally committed to controlling Afghanistan's foreign policy, just as they were committed to determining Nepal's. The British found such treaty arrangements convenient, whereby they got what they really wanted, control over the foreign and defence policies, while leaving day-to-day administration to "native" dynasties that were there before, and which the British did not want to disturb, though they insisted on having someone on the throne favourable to them. This was the pattern of all the princely states of India. Thus, after independence, Afghanistan was thrown even looser, though it still looked to New Delhi for the answers to its foreign policy and defence policy questions. Kabul was ruled by a King who had inherited from an assassinated father, who had himself been installed by the British, and who had almost declared war on Britain during World War II. But the departure of the British had meant that Afghanistan went on looking to New Delhi for guidance, such as when Afghanistan opposed Pakistan's admission into the United Nations. Though also Muslim, Pakistan always saw Afghanistan as a troublesome neighbour, not the least reason being Pashtun revanchism. With the province closest to Afghanistan being overwhelmingly Pashtun, the policy of Pashtunistan was popular, especially when spearheaded by as charismatic and popular a leader as Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan. The Pashtunistan movement died down as Ghaffar Khan grew old, and the King who saw the British depart from the subcontinent, Zahir Shah, was replaced by coup by a cousin and ex-PM, Sardar Daud, who preferred to be president, and thus opened the office to ordinary people, like the presidents imposed by the Soviets, who started with Noor Muhammad Tarakki in 1978, and continued with Babrak Karmal. Karmal was replaced by Mullah Umar, who took the Islamic title of Amir, which had also been the title used by Kabul rulers in the nineteenth century, until they became Kings with the Treaty of Rawalpindi, and named the country an Islamic Emirate. While that might be the reality publicly shown, and while that might have provided the ruling ideology, there was also no doubt that Afghanistan had escaped Indian bonds and fallen in with Pakistani wishes. From the time of Ghaffar Khan, as some within the Pakistani establishment had seen Afghanistan not as a huge irritant left behind by the British, but with the right regime in Kabul, the last bulwark of Pakistan against India. The Taliban seem to have provided the regime. The friendship was managed by the ISI, and it was the DG ISI who took an unaccustomed public role in the endgame with the Taliban. The friendly Taliban were replaced by the hostile Karzai. America did not mind, for Karzai's restaurants in the USA provided both a guarantee of his sincerity as well as hostages and thus guarantees of good behaviour. However, Afghanistan has reacted, for once, very unfavourably to the killing of civilians by the NATO forces there. On top of that has come the blast in the Indian embassy. It would be assumed generally that Pakistan must be behind any action by India, but that is untrue for a Musharraf government, as well as the Zardari-led PPP. Musharraf has always followed a pro-Indian policy, to the extent of conceding Afghanistan to India, while the PPP government under Zardari has not shown any ability to respond to Indian menaces. It is also worth noting when the Pakistan government argues that a particular task is beyond the ability of the ISI to manage. At present, by not making this argument, the government is engaged in some boosting of the image for the ISI.  Karzai has tried to blame Pakistan for all that has gone wrong under his watch, but he is arguing with an American audience, not the American public, which only knows Afghanistan as the place where its sons and brothers are dying in such large numbers to such little avail, but with those in the current administration, both at Defence and at State, who sponsored him as the USA's best bet to become President of Afghanistan. Karzai has been appealing to the element in American promotions, which all in the Pentagon seek, which does not accept that things can go wrong, or that the policy handed down from above may be wrong. True, a good promotion policy only promotes those officers who are lucky, and favours the ones best able to implement a flawed policy, but it means backing turkeys like Karzai to the end. Pakistan should not expect fairness from the Americans where Karzai is concerned, because he is so much their man; where their or NATO officers are concerned; because promotions are at stake; or where India is concerned, because they are trying to woo India, which the West sees as its surrogate in this region. And it is only to be expected that Afghanistan would only have spoken only after consulting India. E-mail: