Afghan leader Karzai heads to India

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by LETHALFORCE, Feb 2, 2011.


    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

    Feb 16, 2009
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    NEW DELHI Indian leaders hope visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai this week will emphasize the safeguarding of mutual interests between the two countries based on historical and cultural links as talks cover the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan expected to begin this summer.

    New Delhi has pledged $1.3 billion in reconstruction aid to the violence-racked nation since 2001, making it Afghanistan's fifth-largest donor. It has built roads and hospitals, maintained a generous visa policy and educated many of the country's top leaders, including Karzai, who was scheduled for a two-day visit to India beginning Wednesday.

    From India's perspective there's a significant factor impeding its bid to expand its influence: Pakistan.

    Even as Washington encourages India to take a larger regional role, the Pakistani government in Islamabad remains deeply wary of Indian reconstruction projects, viewing them as fronts for espionage and trouble-making. Pakistani leaders still think of India's use of Afghanistan to help Balochustan separatists in the 1970s.

    In addition to meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil, Karzai is scheduled to give the keynote speech at a conference on sustainable economic, political and social development.

    But India's lack of shared borders with Afghanistan, giving it no road access except through Pakistan, and the growing number of suicide attacks against its missions and aid workers has blunted its enthusiasm and effectiveness.

    "The way we look at it, our presence is largely economic and largely a manifestation of soft power," said G. Parthasarathy, a former ambassador to Pakistan. "You can't get around Pakistan."

    Analysts said India doesn't expect the U.S. to fully withdraw by 2014, which should make any tilt toward extremism in Afghanistan less pronounced.

    The influence of Taliban militants could be contained by Afghanistan's neighbors, some added. Russia is wary of illegal drugs entering its territory and could well support the Northern Alliance against the Taliban in the north. And Iran is wary of Taliban influence on its border, checking the movement's advance in the west.

    India's major interests in Afghanistan are strategic, ensuring that terrorists don't wash up on its shores, and economic, especially access to energy needed to fuel its red-hot economy.

    Indian officials hope to hear this week how Karzai sees national reconciliation playing out, what role he expects the Taliban to play and on what terms, analysts said.

    "India has spent so much on reconstruction, it wants to know that its investment is safeguarded," said C. Raja Mohan, a security analyst and columnist with the Indian Express newspaper.

    India also has expressed interest in two pipeline projects, including a $7.6 billion project to bring Turkmenistan gas to the Indian town of Fazilka.

    Given the geography, however, both would have to travel through Pakistan, leaving India's energy security vulnerable to a neighbor it has fought three wars with since independence.

    "Both pipelines have a 'P' in the middle for Pakistan," said D. Suba Chandran, an analyst with the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi. "We like to say that Afghanistan is the gateway to Central Asia, but if you can read a map, Pakistan is the gateway."

    U.S. diplomatic cables written in 2007 and recently released by Wikileaks, outline various ways India could expand its soft-power in Afghanistan, including police and election training, food aid, sports and the spread of Bollywood.

    But Bollywood is a tool that must be handled carefully, some said, given the danger despite its popularity that Islamacists could resent its themes of dancing and merrymaking.

    "We play our cultural thing very carefully," said Parthasarathy. "If, through cable and DVD, this gets people to treat women better, though, that's a plus."

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  3. Young Gorkha

    Young Gorkha New Member

    Feb 3, 2011
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    We must do everything that could keep Taliban out of power. We cannot see Taliban in power again which allows safe heaven for plane hijacking, terrorist activities, etc.
  4. SpArK

    SpArK SORCERER Senior Member

    Oct 24, 2010
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    India, Afghanistan to jointly combat terror

    Amid Pakistan’s attempt to influence the Taliban integration process, India and Afghanistan Thursday discussed ways to jointly combat the common threat of terrorism and work for peace and stability in the region.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met Afghan President Hamid Karzai at his residence in New Delhi and discussed a wide range of bilateral issues, including India’s developmental assistance and the security of Indians in that country. Karzai, who touched down Wednesday night for a two-day visit, assured that his government was doing everything possible to ensure security of around 4,000 Indians engaged in a raneg of projects in the violence-torn country.

    Manmohan Singh is also understood to have voiced India’s apprehensions about the ongoing dialogue over integrating the so-called moderate Taliban elements, specially Pakistan’s perceived attempt to meddle in the process to further its own strategic designs.

    Karzai also briefed Manmohan Singh about the progress in the proposed Taliban integration process and assured him that only those Taliban who renounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution will be considered for any power-sharing arrangement in the future.

    Early this month, former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani had led a delegation of the Afghan High Council for Peace to Islamabad to seek assistance in brokering peace with the Taliban. The meeting was closely watched in New Delhi, with External Affairs Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna taking up the issue with the Afghan leadership when he visited Kabul early this month.

    Manmohan Singh and Karzai also discussed the prospective security situation in view of the proposed phased withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan that is expected to begin in July, said informed sources.

    “The two leaders agreed that the strategic partnership between India and Afghanistan is a positive factor for peace and stability in the region,” a joint statement issued after the talks said.

    “In this context, the two leaders also discussed the common threat faced by both their societies from terrorism. They agreed that this ran counter to the aspiration of their peoples,” the statement said.

    Thanking India for the assistance worth around $1.3 billion it has provided over the years, the India-educated Afghan president underlined the “need for the two countries to work together in close cooperation in the interest of the people of the two countries and stability in the region at large”.

    Manmohan Singh accepted Karzai’s invitation to visit Afghanistan at an early date. Karzai also called on President Pratibha Devisingh Patil. Wrapping up his 24-hour visit, Karzai flew to Munich to attend a global security conference.

    India, Afghanistan to jointly combat terror | StratPost

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