China's Afghan oil deal on the skids
By M K Bhadrakumar
Within a week of the Afghan government's resolve to take its relationship with China to a "new strategic level", Sino-Afghan ties have run into bad weather. China finds itself in the middle of a cesspool of first-class political intrigue, sleaze and power plays that could sully its good-neighborly image among the people of northern Afghanistan.
The facts are as follows. Toward the end of last year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai took the fateful decision to award the first contract for exploring, developing and extracting oil in the Amu Darya basin. In a crisply worded statement, Karzai's office put his