India Befriends Afghanistan, Irking Pakistan

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by Flint, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. Flint

    Flint Senior Member Senior Member

    Mar 10, 2009
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    India Befriends Afghanistan, Irking Pakistan

    With $1.2 Billion in Pledged Aid, New Delhi Hopes to Help Build a Country That Is 'Stable, Democratic, Multiethnic'


    KABUL -- After shunning Afghanistan during the Taliban regime, India has become a major donor and new friend to the country's democratic government -- even if its growing presence here riles archrival Pakistan.

    From wells and toilets to power plants and satellite transmitters, India is seeding Afghanistan with a vast array of projects. The $1.2 billion in pledged assistance includes projects both vital to Afghanistan's economy, such as a completed road link to Iran's border, and symbolic of its democratic aspirations, such as the construction of a new parliament building in Kabul. The Indian government is also paying to bring scores of bureaucrats to India, as it cultivates a new generation of Afghan officialdom.

    India's aid has elevated it to Afghanistan's top tier of donors. In terms of pledged donations through 2013, India now ranks fifth behind the U.S., U.K., Japan and Canada, according to the Afghanistan government. Pakistan doesn't rank in the top 10.


    Afghanistan is now the second-largest recipient of Indian aid after Bhutan. "We are here for the same reason the U.S. and others are here -- to see a stable, democratic, multiethnic Afghanistan," Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Jayant Prasad said in an interview.

    Such a future for Afghanistan is hardly assured, as the run-up to Thursday's presidential election shows. On Tuesday, a pair of mortar shells hit near the presidential palace in Kabul while Taliban insurgents attacked polling stations across the country, as part of wave of violence aimed at preventing people from casting ballots in the election.

    Despite backing the Taliban in the past, Pakistan doesn't want to see an anarchic Afghanistan, say Pakistani security analysts.

    "Pakistan is doing nothing to thwart the elections in Afghanistan and everything to help Afghanistan stabilize and have a truly representative government," says Gen. Jehangir Karamat, Pakistan's former ambassador to the U.S. and a retired army chief.

    Yet India's largess has stirred concern in Pakistan, a country situated between Afghanistan and India that has seen its influence in Afghanistan wane following the collapse of the Taliban regime. At the heart of the tensions is the shared fear that Afghanistan could be used by one to destabilize the other.

    "We recognize that Afghanistan needs development assistance from every possible source to address the daunting challenges it is facing. We have no issue with that," says Pakistani foreign-ministry spokesman Abdul Basit. "What Pakistan is looking for is strict adherence to the principle of noninterference."

    India is seeding Afghanistan with a vast array of projects such as a completed road link to Iran's border and the construction of a new parliament building in Kabul. A view of the city, above.

    The two countries have sparred repeatedly about each other's activities in Afghanistan. Indian officials say their Pakistani counterparts have claimed that there are more than the official four Indian consulates in Afghanistan, and that they support an extensive Indian spy network. For years, Pakistan refused to allow overland shipment of fortified wheat biscuits from India to feed two million Afghan schoolchildren. India instead had to ship the biscuits through Iran, driving up costs for the program.

    The World Food Program, which administers the shipments, said the Pakistan government gave its approval for overland shipment in 2008 -- six years after the first delivery from India. "Why did it take six years ... is something that WFP cannot answer," a spokesman for the aid organization said. "However, we are indeed thankful to the government of Pakistan for allowing transit for the fortified biscuits."

    Mr. Basit, the foreign-ministry spokesman, didn't respond to a question about the Indian food assistance.

    India's aid has extended well beyond physical infrastructure to the training of accountants and economists. For a nation devastated by decades of war, these soft skills fill a hole, says Noorullah Delawari, Afghanistan's former central-bank governor and now head of Afghanistan Investment Support Agency, an organization that promotes private enterprise. "The country shut down for 20 years," he said. "We stopped producing educated people to run our businesses and government offices."

    Some believe there is room for cooperation between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan since both countries share an abiding interest in its stability. "The opportunity is there," says Gen. Karamat, "if we can get out of the straitjacket of the past."
    —Matthew Rosenberg contributed to this article.
  3. kuku

    kuku Respected Member

    Mar 30, 2009
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    As far as i can remember from my life that nation has been at war, any hope of the current government becoming a stable government in Afghanistan should be helped as much as it can be.
  4. Daredevil

    Daredevil On Vacation! Administrator

    Apr 5, 2009
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    While India is trying to stabilize Afghanistan by taking up social, infrastructural, economic, political, bureaucratic projects to improve overall system in Afghanistan, Pakistan is praying for the time when US/NATO forces leave Afghanistan, so that they can send their Taliban sidekicks to destabilize Afghanistan to gain so-called strategic depth(whatever it means).

    I wish Afghanistan all the best.
  5. Dark Sorrow

    Dark Sorrow Respected Member Senior Member

    Mar 24, 2009
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    US/NATO forces are not going to leave Afganistan any sooner. US also knows the security implication that could happen if they leave Afganistan any time sooner.

    LETHALFORCE Moderator Moderator

    Feb 16, 2009
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    I have been wondering when USA will start giving military aid to afghanistan to protect them from the pakistani Taliban/insurgents??
  7. ppgj

    ppgj Senior Member Senior Member

    Aug 13, 2009
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    you may be right.obama was critical with bush in the elections2008.he emphasised that focus-instead of iraq should have been afghanistan.
  8. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

    Feb 23, 2009
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    India and Post-Election Afghanistan

    Kanwal Sibal l August 25, 2009


    THE August 21 Presidential election in Afghanistan will not immediately change the fundamentals of the situation there, whatever the final outcome.

    The deficiencies of the principal political protagonists, opportunistic alliances, the ethnic divide, warlordism, the development deficit, poor governance, the Taliban insurgency, foreign military presence, poppy cultivation, drug trafficking, Pakistans strategic ambitions in Afghanistan — all are established realities on the ground.

    These elections, even if Karzai wins in the first round, will not increase his legitimacy to the point that he becomes a truly national leader capable of delivering the much awaited good governance that the country badly needs. Participation in elections has been highest in the northern and western parts of the country — not the natural Pushtun support base of Karzai — and Nangharhar province in the east.

    Participation in Kabul has been weak, as was the case in the 2004 elections. In southern Afghanistan, especially in the Taliban infested Helmand area where US and British troops are operating, participation has been particularly low. As the Taliban are a Pushtun phenomenon, Karzais Pushtun ethnicity has always been critical in terms of reaching out to the countrys Pushtun majority and promoting interethnic reconciliation for longer term political stability. Karzai, however, has not been able to impose himself as a Pushtun leader, with the Pushtuns accepting that through him they exercise political dominance at the centre. There are, of course, many reasons for this: the tribal structure of Afghan society, Karzais origin from a less important tribe, his installation in power by the Americans and, most importantly, Pakistani machinations through Taliban leaders enjoying protection on its soil and Soviet era mujahhideens to eventually wrest power in Kabul in furtherance of the ambition of its military to acquire strategic depth against India and prevent it from exercising influence within Afghanistan detrimental to Pakistans interests.


    “ Democratic” elections in politically underdeveloped societies do not always provide the answer to the manifold problems they face. The just concluded elections could actually make the situation more difficult to handle. If Karzai obtains less than 50 per cent vote and is obliged to go through a second round, then even if he emerges eventually as the victor, he would have been weakened politically, making governance even more vulnerable to unhealthy compromises.

    President Karzai, in the forefront since December 2001 has shown a great degree of political resilience, even as his record of governance has come under severe criticism. Failure to impose himself as Pashtun leader, corruption, unsavoury deals with warlords, manipulation of ethnic divisions, drug trafficking involving his family members — all this is being placed at his door step. If, as is believed, the US wanted him replaced at one stage because of his failure to deliver, the absence of a viable alternative would have stymied that initiative.

    He has shown himself to be a wily politician, working with the Americans, depending on them, suffering disparagement by the US liberal press, and yet carving out some autonomy for himself, making intra- Afghan deals not altogether approved by the US and criticising US military strikes responsible for civilian casualties. Even as US policy in Afghanistan has been faulted and the point repeatedly made that the writ of the Karzai government does not extend much beyond Kabul, the Afghan President has been successful in gathering for himself international backing from such diverse quarters as Russia, Iran and China. Indias relationship with Karzai has been particularly productive.

    He has given political space to India in Afghanistan, supported our assistance projects and taken a robust position on the role of Pakistan in spreading terrorism in the region.

    His principal opponent in the election, Abdullah Abdullah, an associate of Ahmad Shah Massoud, is close to India. As his family moved to India when the Taliban captured power, he has frequently enjoyed Indian hospitality.

    India would be comfortable with the success of either contender.

    As Foreign Minister from 2002 to 2006, Abdullah Abdullah has had considerable international exposure.

    That he is articulate, personable and has recognition is an asset; that he is a Tajik may not be one in terms of ambitions to occupy the Presidents post. Replacing a Pashtun as the head of the government by a non- Pashtun may not be very politic at this juncture. It is also believed that his candidature has strong Iranian backing. Iran has worked closely in the past with the Northern Alliance in which Abdullah Abdullah was a prominent figure.


    Unlike Karzai who has interest in expanding his Pashtun base and has been pressing the US and British for overtures towards the “ moderate” Taliban, Abdullah Abdullah should have little interest in inducting such elements, with their pernicious ideology, in the government. In this particular context the Karzai- US- British strategy of strengthening the Pashtun base of the government by accommodating the Taliban presents problems for India. Through this strategy, the US and the British will also find it possible to accommodate Pakistans longer term strategic interests in Afghanistan. Ironically though, this strategy, earlier thought of to stabilise the situation in Afghanistan, may now have the merit in western eyes of helping stabilise Pakistan threatened by indigenous Taliban groups.

    Indias limited options in Afghanistan should remain unaffected by the Presidential election.

    Our successful assistance programme has generated goodwill, but does not provide a durable political and economic base in the country.

    We could not prevent Karzai from politically marginalising the erstwhile Northern Alliance over the years, though to improve his election prospects he decided to choose Mohammed Fahim, the former Defence Minister of Tajik stock, much reviled by the West, as his Vice- Presidential running mate.


    To counter the dangers of the western policy of reintegrating the Taliban in the state apparatus, reviving that Alliance would not be feasible today. The Russians are now agreeable to US transporting men and war material to Afghanistan across their airspace. General Kiyanis recent visit to Moscow suggests that the focus now is on obtaining Pakistans cooperation in controlling the Taliban menace. We are today present in the Pashtun areas with our Consulates, but any advance of the Taliban in this area will jeopardise this presence.

    We cannot get militarily involved in Afghanistan. A Hindu soldier killing a Muslim Afghan will reverberate in the land of the Hindukush and could invite reprisals inside J& K. We should continue with our development aid programmes, offer help in training the Afghan police, para- military and military forces in Afghanistan or in India.

    The US is now accepting the legitimacy of Indias assistance programmes, but Pakistan has not ceased its efforts to press the US to force India to reduce its presence in Afghanistan. The Pakistan military spokesman in fact referred recently to this Pakistani demand as a quid pro quo for arranging for the US and the Taliban leadership to meet.

    If the Chabahar- Zaranj- Delaram route could be made operational, Afghanistans and Indias strategic options would increase, but Iran is dragging its feet. The best we can hope for is that the West would be able to contain the hardcore Taliban, and that we will be able to remain present in Afghanistan in a limited way.

    India and Post-Election Afghanistan | EastWest Institute
  9. proud_hindustani

    proud_hindustani Regular Member

    Nov 8, 2009
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    I think It would be great if USA / Nato and India establish their military bases to protect Afganistan from the tyrants of Taliban while stabilizing Afganistan with investments.

    another advantage for India - If pakistan attacks on India, our military residing in Afganistan will give pakis a good answer. It would be very difficult for Pakistan to fight on both sides.
  10. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

    Sep 5, 2009
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    I think that there is a very remote probability of India being militarily involved in Afghanistan in foreseeable future, as Rage's article pointed out, it can actually work against India considering the religious flash point of Hindus pitted against highly orthodox Muslims. Especially in a place like Afghanistan, where ethnic groups have been pitted against each other for ages, it will be very difficult for their population to adjust to non-Islamic army present among them. The ultra right groups can create mayhem by spreading religious propaganda among the locals which every non-Islamic country will like to avoid. As long as major portions of the Taliban don't join the mainstream and the warlords are reined in, and the Pakistani influence in local politics is not diminished, there can never be any peace in that country.
  11. GokuInd

    GokuInd Regular Member

    Mar 31, 2009
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    This is an interesting article regarding Indian contribution to the planned reconstruction of Afghanistan. And oddly enough, I have never read about this in European media yet:

    Afghanis want India to reconstruct their nation

    Washington, Nov 22: India has topped a list of countries and organisations playing a role in reconstruction and development efforts in Afghanistan, with a substantial number of people of the war-torn nation placing it ahead of the UN, NATO, Iran and others in a survey.

    India's increasing visibility in rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan is reflected in the roles Afghans see the country as playing and think it should play, according to a Gallup poll.

    A majority of Afghans (56 per cent) said India currently plays a role in the reconstruction of their country and 59 per cent said this is the role the country should play, the poll released on Friday said.

    At least one in seven Afghans identified India's current role in economic development (15 per cent) and said it should play this role (16 per cent).

    India is now the largest regional aid donor to Afghanistan, committing funds to education, health, telecommunications and building highways and dams.

    According to the survey conducted in June, 51 per cent Afghans see the UN playing a role in the reconstruction efforts followed by NATO at 44 per cent, Iran (42 per cent) and Pakistan (30 per cent).

    Reflecting the often-strained relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Afghans said Islamabad's current role in Afghanistan is supporting the Taliban leadership (33 per cent), almost the same as its role in reconstruction (30 per cent), the poll said.

    Afghanis want India to reconstruct their nation

    Again I think, India should continue utilising one of its biggest assets in foreign policy: Soft Power

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