India and Pakistan are both competing for influence in Afghanistan in a modern-day version of the Great Game that has complicated the search for a settlement, but on the streets of Kabul the Indians still seem to evoke greater goodwill.
Three times I have been asked at police checkpoints at darkened intersections and in offices, whether I was a Pakistani and when I said I was an Indian, they would respond : "everyone here says that, show me your passport."
The subtext is clear : if you are a Pakistani, the red flag goes up at the back of the mind, there are more questions asked. And if you are an Indian, you tend to get away more easily; there is even friendly banter over the wildly popular Bollywood films and the starlets in them.
At times it has become so bad, that some Pakistanis have pretended to be Indians just to get over the endless security hassles, one Afghan police officer who checked me at an investment promotion office said. For a Pakistani to pretend to be an Indian mustn't be easy given the blood rivalry between the two nations.