Should India drop the Shovel and Pick up the Gun in Afghanistan ?

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by Singh, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    Nitin Pai of the National Interest argues Yes,


    Here is his take.

    The attack on Indian officials in Kabul on February 26th was no ordinary one—it was almost certainly an operation ordered by the ISI and carried out by one or the other of its errand boys. If the ‘taliban’ wanted to merely attack Indian nationals they could have picked any of the hundreds of civilians and aid-workers spread across the country. That they chose the particular hotel in Kabul, and at what appears to be a particular time, suggests that the targeting was deliberate. When, while storming the guest house, one of the attackers shouted “where is the director?” he wasn’t asking for Mahesh Bhatt.

    Pakistan has escalated the proxy war against India in Afghanistan. How should, and how will India respond?

    Right from the time when Indian aid workers first came under attack in November 2005, The Acorn has argued that India must both increase its development activities as well as increase its military presence in Afghanistan. India cannot fight this war with shovels alone. Then in August 2008 after Pakistan escalated the proxy war to yet another level, Pragati argued that India should consider sending combat troops to Afghanistan. And when it became clear that General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had decided to continue on the path of escalation of the proxy war both in Afghanistan and on Indian soil, we advocated that India must send combat troops to Afghanistan.

    The February 26th attacks on Indian interests in Afghanistan reveal that the criticism that sending troops will cause Pakistan to escalate violence was misplaced. On the contrary, absent an Indian response, Pakistan will continue to escalate until India suspends its development activities, disengages from political engagement of the Afghan government and completely pulls out of Afghanistan. And then it will shift the main theatre of the proxy war back to Jammu & Kashmir.

    Given the nature of the game, India’s immediate response must be a tit-for-tat attack against Pakistani interests. That should be followed by a strengthening of the number, quality and terms of engagement troops providing security to Indian installations, projects and personnel. But even this will fall short of what is really required—combat troops on missions that support the Hamid Karzai government.

    But how will India respond? It is quite likely that the Indian government will want to continue the development projects but enhance the number of paramilitary troops that provide security. It is also likely to increase intelligence co-operation with Iran and Russia, and might even attempt to bolster the anti-taliban and anti-Pakistan groups (of which there is no shortage). While all this might give India some tactical options in the proxy war, it will lack effective strategic levers unless the UPA government is willing to take some bold steps.

    Tailpiece: Richard Holbrooke, who made a reasonable point when he said that it is too early to jump to conclusions, should have known better than to speak too soon. He has himself to blame not merely for angering mourners but for losing credibility by appearing to exonerate the ISI too early. Now he’s had to eat a humble pakora.

    You can refer to his blog post here for a more detailed analysis, complete with links.
    http://acorn.nationalinterest.in/2010/03/05/shovels-are-insufficient/

    ---

    Members please give your views.
     
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  3. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    This is the most impractical idea that can be floated. The first response will be to send Indian Troops into Afganistan, but prudence and the situation on the ground strongly negates it.

    The sad truth is that we do not have the resources to support our guys in Afganistan, especially with the land route blocked for us.
     
  4. Soham

    Soham DFI TEAM Senior Member

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    We have a problem. We are short of choices.

    There are two ways of working upon military intervention.

    1. We send troops for peacekeeping without expressing a desire to establish Area of Influence(Henceforth referred to as AOE)
    2. Send the troops(along with a diplomatic push) with an intent to dominate Afghani geo-politics and establishing strong influence over their policies.

    Now, if we go in for the first case, its not exactly going to make a drastic breakthrough and level of co-operation will remain around what we have currently. We'll be right where we stand, and it might just become a needless sacrifice of our soldiers.

    The second, is highly desirable. However, it will not enter the realms of possibility unless our drive is free of western apprehensions. Currently, the US will be opposed to an Indian AOE in Afghanistan for reasons of its own, as well as necessary appeasement of Pakistan's cribbing.The truth is, that at the moment, US needs Pakistan much more than they need India. It will take some magical Maskirova to establish deep(possibly military) ties with Afghanistan.

    Obviously, when the west totally withdraw, they'll leave behind a militarily powerful Afghanistan. And their ideas of "stable South Asia" will not allow Pakistan's encirclement with two militarily strong countries.

    Basically,
    Military intervention at the moment will not serve any significant purpose.
     
  5. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    The question would be 'to pick up gun against whom ?'......Taliban?...The Taliban quandary presents a huge challenge to south block.while Taliban might be reviled for their regressive ideology and their continued patronage from pak military might indicate as to which side their interests lay,however Taliban to some extent have come to represent one end of the political divide that exists in Afghanistan.Despite his ethnic status,President Karzai's regime is seen by most observers(foreign and local)as that of the one representing the non pashtun ethnic groups from the north,who,then known as the northern alliance,swept to power on the back of the invading American forces.Karzai's appointment and subsequent election as president did not change the real power equation in Kabul,which favored northern alliance partners most of whom are ethnic non pashtuns........This left the question as to who represented Pashtuns unanswered and it is this vacuum that allowed the defunct Taliban to stage a come back.

    Until a real representative political system evolves in Afghanistan,power in Afghanistan will flow from the barrel of the gun and you cant blame is many Pashtuns pin their hopes on a resurgent(hopefully a restrained)Taliban to secure their interest.Given this environment India cannot be seen too keen to the take the side of the northern alliance led govt against the Taliban which draws large support from among the Afghan Pashtuns.
     
  6. bengalraider

    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    We already have troops on the ground in Afghanistan; a lot of troops they are not under our flag but they have close links with us ; i am of course talking about the military forces of the warlord and present afghan Defence minister Gen. Abdul rashid Dostum. We can and should put our own troops on the ground in areas controlled by pro-India (Read former NA) leaders such as Gen. Dostum and Gov. Ismail khan. Afghanistan is still primarily a tribal society with the writ of Kabul being overwritten in many areas by local chieftains and warlords.We need to focus our developmental projects in areas where we can be assured of protection by our former NA friends i.e in the north and the west. Information spreads and news of our good work shall in due time persuade other local chiefs some even from among the pushtun to call us for help .once we have the solid basking of a majority of tribal leaders we can be assured of backing in the afghan government no matter what the western opinion(the afghans will do this to please tribal sensibilities if the pressure is high enough). at that point of time and that point of time only should we pump in substantial troop concentrations into Afghanistan before that i would only recommend trainers and other support staff for the fledgling ANA.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2010
  7. LETHALFORCE

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

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    Many increase in troops by India may have Pakistan pressure USA by being uncooperative, few alternative supply routes to Afghanistan have been found but Pakistan is still the cheapest way to transport goods and weapons, with the USA surge taking place I don't think USA want to take this risk. But the offer is still on the table, but we need to stay there even after the Americans/Nato leave.

    http://pakistankakhudahafiz.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/india-to-send-more-troops-to-afghanistan/


    India to send more troops to Afghanistan
    March 6, 2010

    The recent killing of RAW agents in Kabul attack has exposed Indian activities in Afghanistan. The Indian media avoided to highlight or protest the killings, out of fear of exposure of Indian designs against Pakistan. Now Indian government clearly said it is sending more troops to protect RAW assets.

    NEW DELHI: India on Tuesday said Afghanistan remained a “vulnerable” area for Indian assets as the government plans to provide more and better security to its nationals posted in the war-ravaged country.

    “There were intelligence alerts that Indian assets may be targeted, following which adequate steps were taken but Afghanistan is a vulnerable area,” home minister P Chidambaram said on Friday’s attack in Kabul in which six Indians died.

    Chidambaram’s comments come close on the heels of a government move to send another contingent of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel to strengthen security of Indian interests in Afghanistan.

    Sources here said the Afghanistan government has agreed to the Indian demand of sending more security forces to guard vital installations and ongoing development projects, which have become the target of terror groups operating in the region.

    The home ministry is also planning to move Indian officials, including doctors, to safer locations in Afghanistan after terrorists struck at two hotels in which Indians engaged in development and reconstruction works were staying, the sources said.

    Realising that the Taliban and their associates have started targeting Indian officials who are in the field and are vulnerable, India has begun a review of their security. There are about 4,000 Indians engaged in such projects — being implemented as part of India’s development assistance to the tune of $1.3 billion to Afghanistan. A team of investigators is already in Kabul, joining a probe being conducted by Afghan authorities into last Friday’s terror attack.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2010
  8. Sabir

    Sabir DFI TEAM Senior Member

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    You can not fight out a proxy war in a short time span. You need to be present there for very long time which is not possible for us to do. We can send few more companies of special force to protect installations important to us. To eradicate anti-Indian elements from there we have to depend on the pro-India Afghans. What we can do is to assist Afghan Army to train their soldiers to fight against such insurgents. At present Afghanistan army is not only ill-equipped, their motivation level and lake of discipline are also headache for the foreign trainers. We can send military instructors or bring some batches of their soldiers here for specialized training as a continuous process. GOI has already declared to provide huge fund for reconstruction of Afghanistan. We can also provide military equipments at least those which we are going to replace in coming years.
    We need to maintain our intelligence agents there to assist the Government of Afghanistan and also to monitor how much success we are getting through our indirect support. All these along with our help in reconstruction works, will create a long term impression in mind of the Afghans and I think it will work better in a land where people do not like foreign troops much.
     
  9. gogbot

    gogbot Regular Member

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    While we can offer a huge increase in Manpower.

    Our capabilities and logistics are not on Par with those of NATO and US

    We have never operated away from India before.

    And since most Supplies to Afghanistan comes in from Pakistan, It will create a serious problem.

    What we are doing now will have to suffice, We simply cannot afford a war and no political party will make such a decision, When the only thing they are supposed to deliver is high growth rates
     
  10. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    To be successful in Afganistan you have to neutralise FATA and to neutralise FATA pindi must be ravaged first.Otherwise india will be keep fighting proxy war in Afghanistan.USA doing same mistake what USSR did in 1980. they didnt go inside pakistan to finish off the insurgents.
     
  11. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Afghan reality: India may talk to ISI, Taliban

     
  12. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    As i said in the other thread which is the same as ajtrs post above,

     
  13. Vinod2070

    Vinod2070 मध्यस्थ Stars and Ambassadors

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    It looks likely that Afghanistan may fall to the old days of internecine warfare that happened after the USSR withdrawal in 1979.

    India/Russia/Iran and few others would again support the NA and Pakistan will support the Taliban and it will again be a hellhole.
     
  14. karan

    karan New Member

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    We need to agressively protect our interests in Afghanistan. Following pts will be relevant in this regard:-

    1 In afghanistan, it is no game for India, its a fight for our survival.
    2 Tps on grnd may not be sustainable. Remeber IPKF. To fight proxy wars like those in Afghanistan, a lot of tos are reqd.
    3 We must plan for post US pull out phase now itself. It will incl
    -Co opting Iran, Russia and CAR into the overall gameplan.
    -Prop up NA
    -Ensure air and other sp with regard to fire power and communication support to NA. Can be done from CAR.
    -Use money to buy warlords. US used it successfully. Expand RAW ops in the region
    -Keep Balouchistan hot along with SWAT and Waziristan.
    -Agressive diplomacy telling the world the Imp of the region for India's securuty.
    -Agressively open the Iran route to Afghanistan to reduce Pak leverage.
     
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  15. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    I personally think that India getting militarily involved in Afghanistan is nothing short of a suicide mission for our troops !! We all know what happened to Soviet Union troops and how the Americans and NATO forces are paying a heavy price in their day-to-day engagements in Afghanistan. Same will be ours fate, if we plan to go down the same road. The best we could do at this point of time is to send adequate troops to cover our men engaged in projects in Afghanistan and co-operate with the Afghan army to keep our men and property out of harm's way with all the effort we can put in, militarily or diplomatically. We should train the Afghan to bring them up to acceptable standards and help them build the capability to take the war to Taliban with utmost efficiency and success and thereby become more independent.
     
  16. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    India has neither the wherewithal nor the capability to field a formidable expeditionary force, and certainly not in a place like Afghanistan. The blog author's words seem to be inspired by jingoism, not reality.

    The only thing to do here would be to improve security measures to minimize the damage incurred from such attacks. One thing to remember here is that nothing is fool proof. Unfortunately incidents like this will keep on happening and people will die; that is the nature of getting anything done in Afghanistan.
     
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  17. GokuInd

    GokuInd Regular Member

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    Right. That's why I think India should not meddle in Afghan affairs like the Pakistanis have been doing so for decades. I think India derives its positive standing among common Afghans on account of its Soft Power.
    Any direct military action IMO is not only beyond present capabilities but would also belittle them vis-à-vis Pakistan. A "rally around the flag" effect among the warring factions (Taliban,Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin) bolstered by active Pakistani support in order to fight "Hindu" Indians is certainly not in our interest.

    So I think it's sufficient to explore and exploit potential frictions within the Mujaheddin and utilize this. And regardless of the US and their continued ramblings about ""increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan likely to exacerbate regional tensions", India shall be focused on the ongoing events in central Afghanistan on its own terms explained above. After all, turning Astan into a hotbed for terrorists (see the tumultuous 1999) proved to be disastrous for India's security.
     
  18. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    Thre is a difference between an expeditionary force and a protection force. India, if it choses to move in some troops will not be to do the dirty work of America. It will be to protect its own citizens who are working there in spite of all odds. We are not thinking of moving arty and tanks there are we.
     
  19. bengalraider

    bengalraider DFI Technocrat Stars and Ambassadors

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    As i pointed out earlier we do not need more troops on the ground to protect our people , what we need to do is rebuild old links with former commanders of the NA and build new links with Pro-Kabul pushtun leaders, this can be done in a variety of ways
    1)offer scholarships to the wards to pushtun elders and build links as teachers with the leaders families
    2)afghan doctors can be trained in India and then be sent to serve their communities in hospitals built by India
    3)We need to expand drastically the number of afghan military officers we are training in India
    4)All the above + financial largesses for Afghan leaders willing to help India

    The fact remains that there are over 2 million AK's in Afghanistan as of now much of this (around 400-600,00) lies with Taliban supporter militias and the Taliban but the rest of this formidable arsenal is operated and owned by tribal militias, if we can get these tribes in our camp we might just get Afghanistan in our camp.
     
  20. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Forget the artillery and tanks, mate ! All the IA can hope to move out there is a few thousand troops and maybe some choppers, nothing more is worth the risk that this treacherous country holds for outsiders, especially tanks are sitting ducks in a terrain like that in Afghanistan.
     
  21. GokuInd

    GokuInd Regular Member

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    Sending a Protection Force in order to safeguard the security of embassy staff and personnel involved in development projects is not gonna be a big issues, since this is somewhat obvious and indispensable. However, the question revolved around military intervention as Nitin Pai has suggested in the aforementioned article. And I think this is a big No as suggested in this article:

    Indian Intervention in Afghanistan- A Reality Check.
     

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