Indian Role in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by A.V., Mar 14, 2009.

  1. 1.44

    1.44 Member of The Month SEPTEMBER 2009 Senior Member

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    Afghanistan doesn't have a strong military power to fall back on.I don't see Pakistan cooperating in this.
     
  2. F-14

    F-14 Global Defence Moderator Senior Member

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  3. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    The Hindu : News / National : U.S. sees rising Indian influence in Afghanistan as problem

    In the clearest statement to date of Washington’s reservations about the rising Indian economic and political profile in Afghanistan, the top American general in charge of the war against the Taliban and other insurgents there has said India’s increasing influence in the insurgency-wracked country “is likely to exacerbate regional tensions”.

    In his ‘Commander’s Initial Assessment’ on the war in Afghanistan dated August 30, made public on Sunday, General Stanley A. McChrystal said the situation there is “serious” and “deteriorating”. Though a significant section of his report emphasises the need for a change in U.S. strategy and the way U.S. forces deployed there “think and operate”, the section on “external influences” is likely to grate on New Delhi’s ears because of its implication that India ought to scale back its presence in order to placate Pakistani fears about growing Indian influence.

    “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant development efforts and financial investment. In addition, the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian”, the McChrystal report notes. But it adds: “While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India”.

    India has extended more than $1 billion to Afghanistan in financial and development assistance and is training the Afghan police force and bureaucracy. In recent years, it has been asked by key European countries like Britain and France to step up its assistance even as the U.S. has warned of a negative reaction by Pakistan.

    The coy phrase ‘countermeasures’ in the McChrystal report is clearly a reference to Pakistan stepping up its funding of anti-Indian and anti-Afghan (and thus anti-U.S.) insurgent groups and terrorists.

    However, in its section on Pakistan, the report only says that insurgent and violent extremist groups based in that country “are reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan’s ISI”, an assessment far less categorical than what U.S. officials and military commanders have said before in public and private. The report zeroes in on Al-Qaeda’s links to the Haqqani network (HQN) inside Pakistan and says “expanded HQN control could create a favourable environment for AQAM to re-establish safe-havens in Afghanistan”.

    The HQN is believed to be behind the bombing of India’s embassy in Kabul in 2007 and the recent assassination of Afghanistan’s deputy chief of intelligence, Abdullah Laghmani, and is widely suspected of enjoying the patronage of the ISI.

    Though the McChrystal report falls short of prescribing that India scale back its presence in Afghanistan, the implication is clear: the U.S. is dependent on Pakistani support for the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s capacity to use extremists to hurt American interests remains high, and that India should realise its assistance to Afghanistan might provoke Islamabad into taking “countermeasures”.

    Gen. McChrystal calls for additional U.S. forces but says “focusing on force or resource requirements misses the point entirely ? Success is achievable, but it will not be attained simply by trying harder or ‘doubling down’ on the previous strategy”.

    In line with the Pentagon’s view of the damage that mounting civilian casualties have had on the image of the U.S. and Nato forces in Afghanistan, the McChrystal report squarely admits that “pre-occupied with protection of our own forces, we have operated in a manner that distances us — physically and psychologically — from the people we seek to protect. In addition, we run the risk of strategic defeat by pursuing tactical wins that cause civilian casualties or unnecessary collateral damage. The insurgents cannot defeat us militarily; but we can defeat ourselves”.
     
  4. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    US rejects Pak concerns over Indian 'threat'

    The Obama Administration has rejected Pakistan's allegations that the developmental efforts by India in Afghanistan are a security threat to it, saying a stable and more prosperous Afghanistan will only contribute to regional stability.

    "I don't see how helping Afghanistan develop its economy and its infrastructure could be seen as a security threat to any other country in the region," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters on Monday.

    "On the contrary, a stable and more prosperous Afghanistan is only going to contribute to regional stability," Kelly said when asked about Pakistan's allegation that the massive developmental efforts currently being undertaken by India poses a security threat to it.

    India is one of the largest donors to Afghanistan post-Taliban. It is not only involved in some of the massive developmental projects currently being undertaken in Afghanistan, but also has contributed aides to the amount of more than USD 1.3 billion.

    "I think, you know, the main thing is that we all conduct this in full transparency, that any side that is contributing towards the reconstruction of Afghanistan, that we do so in a cooperative way, we share as much information as possible," Kelly said.
     
  5. hit&run

    hit&run Elite Member Elite Member

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    Some more Insight from an external source

    India: Afghanistan's influential ally


    Indians have been targeted in Afghanistan before

    India believes its embassy was the target of a bomb attack in the Afghan capital, Kabul. If confirmed, it would be the second attack on the embassy in just over a year. The BBC'ss Soutik Biswas examines why India, one of Afghanistan's closest allies, might be chosen as a target.

    A day before the explosion in Kabul, India hosted an international meeting in the capital, Delhi. The subject, ironically, was: "Peace and stability in Afghanistan, the way ahead." But it also pointed to India's growing clout in Afghanistan - it appears to be more than the "soft power" which India's junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor had once described as the country's "greatest asset" in Afghanistan(whats wrong in saying this?).

    After the fall of the Taliban in 2001 India moved quickly to regain its strategic depth in Afghanistan. It opened two new consulates in Herat and Mazhar-e-Sharif and reopened two others in Kandahar and Jalalabad which had been shut since 1979.

    Leading donor

    India also became one of Kabul's leading donors - it has pledged to spend $1.2bn on helping rebuild the country's shattered infrastructure, making it the sixth largest bilateral donor.

    Funds have been committed for education, health, power and telecommunications. There has also been money in the form of food aid and help to strengthen governance.

    India is building the country's new parliament building, erecting power transmission lines in the north, and building more than 200km (125 miles) of roads.

    It is digging tube wells in six provinces, running sanitation projects and medical missions, and working on lighting up 100 villages using solar energy. It is also building a dam and handing out scholarships to young Afghan students.

    India has also given at least three Airbus planes to Afghanistan's ailing national airline. Several thousand Indians are engaged in development work.

    Work on the projects has also moved briskly.


    In January, India completed building the 218km Zaranj-Delaram highway in south-west Afghanistan near the Iranian border.

    In May, an India-made power transmission line to Kabul and a sub-station were opened, bringing 24-hour electricity to the capital for the first time in 17 years.

    The new parliament building in Kabul and a new dam in Herat should be ready by next year.

    'High profile'


    Bilateral trade has grown rapidly, reaching $358m in 2007-2008.

    "India's reconstruction strategy was designed to win over every sector of Afghan society, to give India a high profile with Afghans, gain the maximum political advantage and, of course, undercut Pakistani influence," says analyst Ahmed Rashid.

    Pakistan has had misgivings about increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted.

    "Afghanistan has been a prize that Pakistan and India have fought over directly and indirectly for decades," wrote analyst Robert D Kaplan.(That's a shame; if india in these^^ lines, I have my reservation on this comments. I think to make this article more ideal author is making such dubious remarks. I am still a bit confused what is the exact sence here mentioning india(negative or positive?), but one thing is sure when pakistan was having this prize afghanistan was dismantled to extinction.
    Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf openly accused Afghan President Hamid Karzai of kow-towing to India. Islamabad has also said the Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad were funnelling arms and money to insurgents in Pakistan's troubled Balochistan region.(A looser's assertion)

    India is sponsoring vocational training of Afghan nationals

    View attachment 1170
    All this once provoked Mr Karzai, who went to university in India, to say: "If Pakistan is worried about the role of India, let me assure [you], I have been very specific in telling the Indians that they cannot use Afghan soil for acts of aggression against another country."




    Analysts say Pakistan believes its influence is declining in post-war Afghanistan.

    "India's success in Afghanistan stirred up a hornets' nest in Islamabad which came to believe that India was 'taking over Afghanistan'," says Ahmed Rashid in his book Descent Into Chaos.

    Changing fortunes
    Local Taliban(Good Taliban:wink:) are blamed for attacking and kidnapping Indians in the country.

    There have been explosions and grenade attacks on the Indian consulates in Herat and Jalalabad.

    In January 2008, two Indian and 11 Afghan security personnel were killed and several injured in an attack on the Zaranj-Delaram road.

    In November 2005, a driver with India's state-run Border Roads Organisation was abducted and killed by the Taliban while working on the road.

    There have been other attacks on Indians too.

    In 2003, an Indian national working for a construction company was killed by unknown attackers in Kabul's Taimani district.

    In 2006, an Indian telecommunications engineer was abducted and killed in the southern province of Zabul.

    India's fortunes in Afghanistan have swung back and forth for much of the past two decades

    A staunch ally of the Soviet Union during the Cold War, India supported the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

    This decision made India hugely unpopular among Afghans.
    (Thanks to pakistan)

    President Musharraf had accused Afghanistan of kow-towing to India
    A decade later, it continued to back the Communist-regime of President Najibullah, while Pakistan threw its entire support behind the ethnic Pashtun mujahideen warlords, particularly the Islamist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who were fighting Soviet troops.

    So when the Taliban swept to power and put an end to a bloody civil conflict among warlords, India was left without any influence in the country.

    It ended up backing the Northern Alliance, which controlled territory north of the Shomali plains near Kabul.

    Pakistan, on the other hand, backed and recognised the pariah Taleban regime and gained further strategic depth in the region.

    Afghanistan's interior ministry said the 2008 attack on the Indian embassy was carried out "in co-ordination and consultation with an active intelligence service in the region"(i.e ISI).

    It was clearly alluding to Pakistani agents, who have been blamed for a number of attacks in Afghanistan.

    We may never know precisely who carried out the attacks.(^^link provided, now we know that. Another link).

    But the bombing points to the "Great Game" still being played out between neighbours seeking to gain influence in Afghanistan.(Thats BBC for you:), Please use your conscience to weigh who's Influence is boon and who's curse)
     
  6. BLACK_COBRA

    BLACK_COBRA Regular Member

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    US thumbs-up for Indian work in Afghanistan

    WASHINGTON: The Obama administration has given a thumbs-up to India's developmental work in Afghanistan, rejecting Islamabad’s complaints that New
    Delhi's activities there are detrimental to Pakistan’s security.

    "I don't see how helping Afghanistan develop its economy and its infrastructure could be seen as a security threat to any other country in the region," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said on Monday when asked about Pakistan’s persistent protests on the matter.

    "On the contrary, a stable and more prosperous Afghanistan is only going to contribute to regional stability," Kelly added, as Washington continued its efforts to address Pakistani fears on the issue that some experts say prevents Islamabad from fully disengaging from terrorist proxies such as Taliban and other militant elements it uses to counter India.

    India has invested nearly $1.5 billion in developmental and infrastructure works in Afghanistan, including building roads, hospitals, schools, and the Afghan Parliament building. The effort, which is widely seen as a sharp contrast to Pakistan’s export to that country of Taliban and terrorism, has drawn universal praise. But Pakistan sees it as a pernicious Indian attempt to outflank it and counter its effort to gain strategic depth against India.

    From all accounts, Islamabad is yet to accept US counsel that it is not India or Indian influence in Afghanistan that poses an existential threat to Pakistan, but its own terrorist proxies it has nurtured for decades to keep India off-balance. That policy has now begun to bite Pakistan, judging by the serial terrorist attacks in the country by its home-grown terrorist groups.

    The Pakistani case for strategic depth in the region has also been considerably undermined, now that is accused of fostering terrorism by at least three surrounding countries – India, Afghanistan, and more recently, Iran.

    But in an oblique warning to New Delhi delivered in the US earlier this month, Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi insisted that Indians would ''have to justify their interest'' in Afghanistan and their ''level of engagement (in Kabul) has to be commensurate with'' the fact that ''they do not share a border with Afghanistan, whereas (Pakistan) we do.'' A second bomb attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul followed four days later.

    The Obama administration has repeatedly shot down Islamabad’s claims of strategic interest in Afghanistan, including what US officials say are wildly exaggerated claims of Indian consulates and personnel on the Afghan border with Pakistan. The US pointman on Af-Pak Richard Holbrooke, among others, scoffed at Pakistani accounts of India's allegedly subversive activity from Afghanistan.

    In fact, the Indian effort also came for praise in Gen.Stanley McChrystal’s report on the Af-Pak theater, although he warned of possible complications in the region because of possible Pakistani counter-measures in the face of increasing Indian influence. ''While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India,'' McChrystal said.

    But Pakistani interpretation of the report is that McChrystal has criticized Indian presence and virtually asked New Delhi to withdraw from the Afghanistan -- a self-serving narrative that Kelly pretty much shot down on Monday. Indian officials too have told TOI that at no stage has Washington asked New Delhi to downsize or change its work profile in Afghanistan. On the contrary, there has been appreciation for the Indian policy of winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan, which the U.S is also now trying to adopt.

    However, in a subtle message to New Delhi, Kelly said ''the main thing is that we all conduct this in full transparency, that any side that is contributing towards the reconstruction of Afghanistan, that we do so in a cooperative way, that we share as much information as possible.'' The sub-text – India should reassure Pakistan on the matter and take it on board if possible.

    :dfi-1:

    US thumbs-up for Indian work in Afghanistan - US - World - The Times of India
     
  7. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    Indian Role in Afganistan

    What really matters at the end of the day is how the man in the streets of Kabul, Kandhar and other Afgan cities think of the Indian involvement in their country.

    The results of the survey conducted by ABC News in Afganistan during December 2008 and January 2009 are a real eye opener for the orld and also for us Indians.

    -- Almost 75% of the Afgans polled had a favourable pinion of India. This was the highest among all countries.

    -- On the Opinion of the role played in Afgansitan India comes 2nd to the US with almost 40% approval.

    Afghans, however, think highly of India | The Acorn

    What is more interesting is that Pakistan comes at the bottom of the heap. But what this means that the people in Afganistan have high hopes from India and we must live up to the expectations.

    This high approval rating could also be due to the fact that India does not a military presence in Afganistan and is helping out with the the infrastructure development of the war ravaged country.

    IMO India needs to keep up this work without getting militarily involved in Astan.
    What is important is that India should be having a good relationships with all the major players in Afganistan except of course the Taliban. This appraoch will give more leverage to india than stationing troops in the country.
     
  8. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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    Afghanistan resumes exports with India after 30 years
    Updated at: 1315 PST, Friday, November 13, 2009

    KABUL: Afghanistan exported 12 tonnes of apples to India, officials said, touting the shipment as a key step in exploring much-needed international markets for its agricultural products.

    The apples were sent to New Delhi via air and road, as part of efforts to encourage farmers to grow crops other than opium.

    "Today makes history," Agriculture Minister Mohammad Asif Rahimi told a press conference at Kabul airport before an Air India plane carrying three tonnes (3.3 tons) of Afghan apples took off for New Delhi.

    Nine tonnes were sent by road through neighbouring Pakistan, the minister said.

    "This is the first time that we export apples to India. This is a very major step in enhancing our farmers' economy," he added.

    Rahimi said about 400 tonnes of apples will be shipped to India this season.

    Afghanistan's agriculture sector has suffered badly during 30 years of war, driving many farmers to grow opium, a lucrative crop with which other products have not been able to compete.
    Afghanistan resumes exports with India after 30 years
     
  9. icecoolben

    icecoolben Regular Member

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    Wow, this is really a wonderful improvement. Hope they make it a value-added product with high score of branding them etc. Otherwise importing them via planes would prove superfluous for their worth.
     
  10. Rage

    Rage DFI TEAM Stars and Ambassadors

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    17 tons is very little, although it is a good start.

    There is something every one of us can do to alleviate the situation in Afghanistan. Buy Afghani produce. The greater the demand for their harvest, the less likely they will be to grow opium.

    Frankly, Afghani apples are good too! Afghanistan has proven favorable conditions for the cultivation of apples which remain an important crop despite mitigating conditions in the domestic market and imports from Iran/Pakistan. Most apples though are geared towards domestic rural markets, which are small and farmers' subsistence. This is where India can come in by providing an alternative sources of large demand. Good show Afghanistan! And good show India!
     
  11. RPK

    RPK Indyakudimahan Senior Member

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    Rising Indian influence in Afghanistan worries US and Pakistan


    The top US military commander in Afghanistan has warned that India’s growing influence in the country could “exacerbate regional tensions” and encourage “countermeasures” by Pakistan, India’s historic rival in south Asia.

    In a confidential report submitted to US President Barack Obama on August 30, General Stanley McChrystal wrote, “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan, including significant development efforts and financial investment. In addition, the current Afghan government is perceived by Islamabad to be pro-Indian. While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India.”

    McChrystal’s comments point to a strategic dilemma facing Washington. The US is anxious to court India as a counterweight to a rising China, has welcomed India’s increasing involvement in Afghanistan, and calculates that Indian and American interests coincide in seeking to develop pipelines that would draw central Asia’s oil reserves toward south Asia and the Indian Ocean.

    It is also very eager to develop joint operations with the Indian military. When asked whether the US was ready to seek Indian military assistance in counter-terror operations and counter-insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Lieutenant General Benjamin R. Mixon, head of the US Army’s Pacific Command, said, “The Indian Army is a professional force and the US Army will be comfortable with it anywhere.”

    But at the same time, the US is dependent on Pakistan’s logistical and military support to salvage its war to subjugate Afghanistan and is well aware that its ever-escalating demands are undermining the Pakistani government’s popular support and legitimacy and exacerbating the tensions within the shaky Pakistani federation.

    India and Pakistan have been trading accusations about each other’s involvement in Afghanistan for years. New Delhi claims that Pakistan’s military-intelligence establishment continues to patronize the Taliban, whose rise to power in the mid-1990s took place under Pakistan’s sponsorship. Islamabad counters that India is taking a disproportionate place in Afghanistan, with a view to squeezing Pakistan strategically, and that it has used its growing influence in Afghanistan to support the Balochi nationalist insurgency in Pakistan’s western province.

    After a bomb exploded outside the Indian embassy in Kabul on October 9, killing 17 people but none of the embassy personnel, Indian think-tanks and much of the press charged that the Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the attack, had carried it out at the behest of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency. India’s government, for its part, did not directly accuse Islamabad of responsibility, probably in deference to Washington’s wishes. The Obama administration would not appreciate a further crisis in Indian-Pakistani relations when it is in the midst of a heated debate over its strategy in the so-called Af-Pak war. In any event, the Indo-Pakistani peace process has been frozen by New Delhi for all intents and purposes since the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack.

    India did publicly blame the ISI for a similar attack on its Kabul embassy in July 2008, which killed 41 people, including a senior diplomat and the defence attaché.

    Commenting on the most recent bombing targeting the Indian embassy in Kabul, Siddharth Varadarajan, the Hindu’s strategic affairs editor wrote, “The attackers want to underline the McChrystal report and make the point that any attempt to rely on India or involve India (in any new US policy) will complicate matters.”

    Speaking shortly after last month’s attack, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said New Delhi will take “whatever measures” are necessary to safeguard the security of “our personnel and our interests in Afghanistan.”

    Harsh V. Pant, currently a visiting professor at IIM-Bangalore, said that if India wants to be recognised as a global power its first step must be “to respond to the latest attack in Kabul with greater military engagement to support its developmental and political presence in Afghanistan.”

    India supported the US invasion of Afghanistan, provided intelligence, and helped facilitate the US’s link-up with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. New Delhi saw the Afghan war as a golden opportunity to reverse Pakistan’s increased influence in Afghanistan and to advance its own geopolitical interests in oil-rich central Asia.

    During the administration of George W. Bush there were repeated tensions between Washington and New Delhi over the US’s mercenary relationship with the Pakistani government and military. But overall, Indo-US ties greatly expanded, with the US declaring its eagerness to assist India in becoming a “world power” and toward that end, negotiating a unique status for India—a non-signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, within the world nuclear regulatory regime.

    Since Obama took office, Indo-US relations have become more fractious. New Delhi is apprehensive that its interests will get short-shrift due to Washington’s focus on its relations with Pakistan and China.

    India angrily rebuffed the suggestion made by Obama and his aides during the 2008 presidential campaign that in return for Pakistan doing Washington’s bidding in the Af-Pak war, the US might assist Pakistan in resolving its six-decades’ old dispute with India over Kashmir. New Delhi has also been troubled by Obama’s support for a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on all nations to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). India rejects the NPT's norms as discriminatory and has refused to sign the CTBT on the grounds that it could imperil the development of India’s “strategic deterrent,” i.e. its nuclear weapons arsenal.

    Yesterday India took angry exception to a paragraph in the joint statement that Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao issued at the conclusion of their summit meeting. The paragraph committed the two countries to working to “promote peace, stability and development” in south Asia. “The Government of India,” declared its Foreign Ministry, “is committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through a peaceful bilateral dialogue in accordance with the Simla Agreement. A third country role cannot be envisaged.”

    The Indian government is also anxious about reports that the US and the puppet government of Hamid Karzai are intent on persuading sections of the Taliban to enter into peace negotiations and ultimately incorporation into Afghanistan’s government. Indian officials and media commentators have repeatedly declared that there is no such thing as “good Taliban.” Behind the rhetoric is the fear that Islamabad’s influence in Afghanistan will grow significantly in the event of a rapprochement with elements hitherto associated with the Taliban.

    When the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in 1996 with the support of Pakistan and the US, India lost all influence in Kabul. New Delhi never recognized the Taliban government.

    “In a broad sense,” declared a recent Hindustan Times editorial, “the presidential elections reflect the failure of the non-Taliban and non-Islamicist Afghan leadership to find a power-sharing formula among them. This makes Karzai and the present configuration in Kabul all the more dependent on the US government for support. If the US wavers, Mr. Karzai is almost certain to continue his policy of trying to find an accommodation with some elements of the Taliban. Neither of these scenarios is good news for India or other nations that have suffered the terrorist-friendly policies of the first Taliban regime.”

    Anxious to consolidate its position in post-2001 Afghanistan, the Indian government has invested more than $1.2 billion in rebuilding the country’s infrastructure, including power plants, and in training Afghan civil servants and police. India is Afghanistan’s sixth largest bilateral donor.

    Last January, India completed construction of the 218 kilometre Zaranj-Delaram highway in southwest Afghanistan, which makes it possible to transport goods from Iran to Kabul and across Afghanistan. With the building of this highway, India has developed a land-route to Afghanistan that bypasses Pakistan. For decades Islamabad had effectively scuttled Indo-Afghan trade by refusing to allow Indo-Afghan truck traffic to traverse its territory.

    This Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki travelled to India, for a two-day visit. The first high level contact between the two countries since President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected last June, the Indo-Iranian talks reportedly focussed on energy cooperation, transit routes to central Asia, the sharing of information on anti-government insurgent activity in Pakistan-Afghanistan, and the possibility of reviving the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) natural gas pipeline project.

    According to the Hindu, Mottaki and various Indian officials “also discussed prospects of trilateral dialogue between India, Iran and Afghanistan on transit routes to central Asia, with the Iranian port of Chabar to be the staging point for goods. ‘Our interest in having a trilateral agreement was underlined,’ said informed sources about the transit route beginning from the Chabar port. It was planned to construct a railway line from Chabar to Bam. From there, goods would be taken from the Afghan border town of Zaranj to Delaram on an Indian-built road to the Afghan garland highways, which provide access to several central Asian republics.”

    The new road certainly threatens Pakistan’s commercial position in Afghanistan. At present 37 percent of Afghan’s foreign trade is with Pakistan, 15.9 percent with the European Union and 12.5 percent the US.

    There are more than 4,000 Indian workers and security personnel working on different aid and reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. Following the kidnap and murder of an Indian engineer by the Taliban in 2006, New Delhi sent personnel from the country’s mountain-trained paramilitary force to protect Indian workers. Nearly 500 Indian police are currently deployed in Afghanistan.

    The Indian Army has long planned for the deployment of its personnel in Afghanistan to train Afghan National Army (ANA) troops, but to date the Indian military’s presence in the war-torn country has been limited to providing some English-language training and participating in a couple of humanitarian projects.

    In an article published in early July in conjunction with a visit to India by Afghan army chief General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, Indian commentator C. Raja Mohan argued that if India has thus far resisted appeals for greater military involvement from Kabul it is because of US opposition: “[W]ith Pakistan making a big deal out of Delhi’s rather limited security cooperation with Kabul, Washington has over the last few years cautioned India against raising its profile in Afghanistan beyond economic reconstruction. Even the Bush Administration, which was so friendly to India, was not enthusiastic about seeing the extension of Indo-Pak rivalry into Afghanistan.”

    But sections of the military are unhappy with New Delhi’s caution. Retired General Shankar Roychowdhury, a former Chief of Army Staff and a former Member of Parliament, has described the Afghan war as a “war of necessity” for India. He argues that building up the ANA is “the obvious area on which India should focus in its own long-term interests.”

    In addition to it embassy in Kabul, India has opened four consulates in Afghanistan, in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif. Pakistan claims that these consulates are being used by the Indian foreign intelligence agency, the Research and Intelligence Wing (RAW), to create unrest across the border in Pakistan’s Balochistan province. The Pakistan government has repeatedly accused India of involvement in the separatist conflict in Balochistan and has claimed that RAW is training secessionists.

    On a recent trip to the US, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told the Los Angeles Times that India’s “level of engagement [in Kabul] has to be commensurate with [the fact that] they do not share a border with Afghanistan, whereas we do ... If there is no massive reconstruction [in Afghanistan], if there are not long queues in Delhi waiting for visas to travel to Kabul, why do you have such a large [Indian] presence in Afghanistan? At times, it concerns us.”

    Indian think-tanks are leaning heavily on the Congress Party-led United Progressive Alliance government to intervene more actively in Afghanistan. M.K. Bhadrakumar, a former diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, has noted, “Influential sections of Indian opinion are stridently calling for an outright Indian intervention in Afghanistan without awaiting the niceties of an American invitation letter.”

    Sections of the Indian ruling class see positive aspects to a substantial Indian military presence in Afghanistan. Sushant K. Singh, editor of the strategic affairs journal Pragati: The Indian National Interest Review, wrote recently, “An Indian military involvement in Afghanistan will shift the battleground away from Kashmir and the Indian mainland. Targeting the jihadi base will be a huge boost for India’s anti-terrorist operations, especially in Kashmir, both militarily and psychologically.”

    He insists that the Indian military should operate independently in Afghanistan like “the 13,000 US soldiers under the Operation Enduring Freedom operating independently alongside the NATO-ISAF [International Security Assistance Force].” He called for an independent command structure for the Indian military presence, which could be deployed in western Afghanistan, “allowing US and ISAF forces to concentrate on the provinces adjoining Pakistan.”

    Think-tanks and press pundits are insisting that India cannot remain a “soft power.” Dr. Subhash Kapila, a former military officer and diplomat, has written that India has so far been reluctant to resort to “hard power.” However, he writes, “As India grows more powerful and her strategic worth figures in the global strategic calculus … [it] may not continue to be reluctant and restrained.” He called for a reorientation of US policy in south Asia from “Pakistan-Centric” to an “India-Centric” fixation.

    The Indian government is looking to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US this month to take Indo-US relations to a new level. The Indian ambassador to the US recently boasted, “the India-US relationship has evolved into a truly comprehensive partnership of mutual trust and confidence … that is increasingly global in reach, and [based on] deepening strategic understanding.”

    But despite the warming of relations over the past two decades, any Indo-US partnership remains fraught with tensions and ambivalences as the ruling elite of each country ruthlessly pursues its own interests.
     
  12. IBRIS

    IBRIS Senior Member Senior Member

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    India's close ties with Afghanistan mean it is well placed to step in when the west has flown its last soldier out of Kabul

    In the 19th century, Indian armies twice crossed the Hindu Kush, hoping to stitch together the patchwork political authority of the territory in the service of their British masters. Over a century later, the sovereign republic of India once more has a renewed presence in what was once its mountainous buffer from the Tsarist, and then Soviet, giant to the north.

    A year ago, Indians completed the construction of Afghanistan's new parliament building and, to compound the symbolism, provided training to the legislators who would make the country's laws. Over a billion dollars in aid and investment, multiple consulates, and a little-reported thousand-strong troop presence all testify to the flourishing ties between the two democracies.

    India is Afghanistan's fifth-largest donor, pledging $1.2bn since 2001 and providing aid that spans education, health and infrastructure. The most eye-catching project, a 215km road connecting the Iranian border to Afghanistan's arterial highway, will eventually allow India to transport goods by sea to an Iranian port it is developing, and thence to Afghanistan and beyond. This circumvents the overland route, blocked by Pakistan, but also gives a fillip to Indo-Afghan trade ($538m during 2007-8). Hamid Karzai, himself educated in India and the beneficiary of Indian military support during the 1990s, visited India four times in the first five years of his tenure. The Afghan national army, the linchpin of the new American strategy to pacify the country, receives training across India.

    Not everyone is happy with the widening Indian footprint. Pakistan, long reliant on Afghanistan as a source of "strategic depth" has invoked fears of encirclement and Indian-sponsored separatism. This is in addition to the panoply of wild "conspiracy theorists who insist that every one of Pakistan's ills are there because of interference by the US, India, Israel and Afghanistan", says Ahmed Rashid, a noted Pakistani journalist.

    Among other attacks, a car bomb at the Indian embassy in Kabul killed 41 in July 2008. According to the New York Times, American officials quickly presented "intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack" to demonstrate Pakistani culpability and "the ISI officers had not been renegades".

    Then in September 2009, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the International Security Assistance Force, suggested in a leaked assessment of the war that "while Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India". The scarcely veiled threat of further bloodbaths such as Mumbai prompted renewed anger in the Indian media.

    India has responded cautiously. Indian defence minister AK Antony insisted "categorically … there is no question of Indian military involvement in Afghanistan … not now, not in the future". A former head of India's foreign intelligence service has said that "sending troops … is not an option".

    There are sound and perhaps compelling reasons for this reticence. There remain bitter memories of the 1,200 deaths suffered by an Indian peacekeeping force in Sri Lanka, and although Indian security forces have six decades of counterinsurgency experience, they face multiple intensifying guerilla wars at home from Maoists and separatists. Moreover, India's coalition politics, featuring local parties with parochial interests, is hardly suited to sustaining ambitious foreign policies.

    Yet more than 1,000 members of the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police are deployed in Afghanistan. President Obama's affirmation to withdraw US forces by 2011 has generated a prospective vacuum, inducing Pakistan to renew its support for the Taliban. This has produced loudening, though still marginal, Indian voices in favour of more boots on the ground.

    Amir Taheri, writing in The Times, suggests that a military commitment is "surprisingly popular in India". One former diplomat argues that "influential sections of Indian opinion are stridently calling for an outright Indian intervention in Afghanistan without awaiting the niceties of an American invitation letter".

    The editor of the "realist" journal Pragati writes that "military involvement … will shift the battleground away from Kashmir and the Indian mainland". An affiliated blog draws on the idea of "force fungibility" to argue that "since it is not feasible for Indian troops to directly attack Pakistan's military-jihadi complex, India should ensure that US troops do so" by "reliev[ing them] of duties in areas where they are not actually fighting the Taliban – especially in western and northern Afghanistan".

    Others have suggested that "the best contribution … might be in the areas of combat training and creating capacities in logistics and communications", still sorely lacking in the embryonic Afghan national army.

    Support for the war is faltering in western capitals, partly because citizens cannot see how it furthers homeland security. The frequency and scale of attacks on India mean that Indians have no such trouble. National caveats on force employment – particularly from France, Italy, and Germany – hinder the efficacy of Nato troops, but Indian casualty sensitivity is almost certainly less than that in, say, Britain.

    India's longstanding cultural ties to Afghanistan – Bollywood movies are wildly popular there, for instance – mean that Indian soldiers would be less likely to be stigmatised as occupiers, with 73% of Afghans professing a favourable view of India (and 91% holding the opposite view of Pakistan).

    India is also experienced at counterinsurgency, enjoys good relations with regional powers such as Iran and Russia (including bases in Tajikistan), and the large reserves of available forces. India has nearly 9,000 troops with the UN, and just withdrew 30,000 from Jammu and Kashmir.

    The obstacle to India's involvement is Pakistan. Yet few stop to evaluate the absurdity of having "today's most active sponsor of terrorism" as a frontline ally against terrorists. In December 2009, the New York Times reported Pakistan's refusal to crack down on Siraj Haqqani, the strongest Taliban commander in Afghanistan, on the basis that he was a "longtime asset of Pakistan's spy agency".

    The truth downplayed in western capitals is that India is one of the only interested parties, the US included, that has an interest in both state-building and counterterrorism on the Afghan side of the Durand line. Creating incentives for it to expand its provision of security could lay the groundwork for a commitment that will last long after the last western soldier is flown – or desperately airlifted – out of Kabul.
    Let India help Afghanistan | Shashank Joshi | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
     
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    An Afghan man leads a donkey carrying his wife at the Shahr-e-Gholghola on a hilltop overlooking Bamiyan province on Nov. 9, 2009. Bamiyan, located some 200 kilometres northwest of Kabul, stands in a deep green and lush valley stretching through central Afghanistan, on the former Silk Road that once linked China to Central Asia and beyond.

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    Afghan spectators pour water onto a pair of duelling dogs during a dog fighting match in Kabul on Jan. 2, 2009. Previously, outlawed under Taliban rule, dog-fighting is now legal and very popular in Afghanistan. From November to March, thousands of Afghans gather on the western outskirts of Kabul each Friday to watch the spectacle.

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    Afghan Shiite men beat themselves with chains and blades during a Muslim ritual part of Ashura celebrations in Kabul on Jan. 7, 2008. Shiites, in crowds numbering in the hundreds, crowd the streets of Kabul during the annual Ashura ceremonies. Ashura is a period of mourning in remembrance of the seven-century martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein who was killed in a battle in Karbala in Iraq, in 680 AD.

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    Afghans leave after receiving donations in Kabul on Jan. 23, 2009.

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    A burqa-clad Afghan woman walks past an elderly man sitting in the sunshine in the old city of Kabul on Jan. 29, 2009.

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    A young girl who lost her arm during a U.S. attack watches her father pray at a refugee camp on Feb. 12, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

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    Afghans walk down a snowy street during a snowstorm in Kabul on Feb. 13, 2009.

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    In this picture taken on Feb. 7, 2009, U.S. soldiers talk with Afghan children during a patrol in the village of Narizah in Khost province, southeast of Kabul.

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    Afghan men walk among the remains of Russian military vehicles on the outskirts of Kabul on Feb. 14, 2009 on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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    A young Afghan girl waits in a line for distribution of food by the Afghan National Army during a Civil Military Cooperation operation in Dawlatkhel on Feb. 16, 2009.

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    A U.S. Army soldier with the 1-6 Field Artillery division takes a retina scan of an Afghan man while patrolling an area in Gandalabog, Afghanistan on Feb. 18, 2009.

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    A member of the U.S. Army 1-6 Field Artillery division rests on his vehicle while conducting a joint military exercise with the Afghan National Army on Feb. 23, 2009 in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan.

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    U.S. soldiers sit inside a plane at a U.S. airbase outside Bishkek in Manas on February 26, 2009. The soldiers, who had been serving with ISAF forces in Afghanistan, make a layover on their way to Germany.

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    A man holds his child in the morning chill as the U.S. Army 1-6 Field Artillery division patrols his village on Feb. 26, 2009 in Pigal, Afghanistan.

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    A set of security lights illuminate the landscape at Bagram Air Base on March 2, 2009 in Bagram, Afghanistan.

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    Afghans beg for alms near a shrine on the ruins of the ancient city of Balkh, located outside the northern Afghan town of Mazar-i-Sharif, on March 22, 2009. Once known as the "mother of cities," the ancient city of Balkh was a popular destination along the ancient Silk Route.

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