South Asia Mar 13, 2010 A titanic power struggle in Kabul By M K Bhadrakumar The flurry of diplomatic activity in Kabul during the past week heralded the opening shots of a titanic power struggle, the outcome of which will largely determine the contours of an Afghan settlement. In what is shaping up as a multi-layered power struggle, the principal protagonists are the United States and Britain, Pakistan, Iran and Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The struggle is set to accelerate during the coming weeks and will lead all the way to the Afghan loya jirga (the traditional tribal council), which by present indications is expected to take place in Kabul on April 29. Undoubtedly, the stakes are high for all protagonists and the battle lines are being drawn. The sudden dash by Pakistani army chief Pervez Kiani to Kabul last Friday to discuss "matters of mutual interest" with Karzai, the two-day unannounced mission on Monday by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (whose primary intent was to check out on the intensifying exchanges between Kabul and Tehran), Iranian President Mahmud Ahmedinejad's consultations in Kabul on Wednesday ostensibly to discuss the bright prospects for Afghan-Iranian economic cooperation, and Karzai's own two-day trip to Islamabad from Wednesday - all served to highlight the overlapping templates of the power struggle. More http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LC13Df01.html?