India out of the loop on Af-Pak

Neo

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India out of the loop on Af-Pak

Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN
Mar 18, 2010

WASHINGTON: The atmospherics are good but the ground realities are unfavourable. India is struggling to stay relevant and advance its geo-political equities with the United States at a time Washington is buffeted by domestic pressures and international crises that are undercutting its resolve to put ties with New Delhi on a higher plane.

Good intentions, broad agenda, and packed schedules notwithstanding, Indian diplomatic foray into Washington this week was notable for gripes and grievances than any significant advancement towards the stated goal of achieving a strategic relationship with the US, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao had a series of meetings on Tuesday, including a drop-in by secretary of state Hillary Clinton at a state department meeting with her counterpart William Burns, but in the end there was no meeting of minds on the most fundamental security issue of the times.

India and US disagree on Afghanistan and Pakistan. That much became clear towards the end of the foreign secretary's visit although elaboration on this issue was foiled by the cancellation of Rao's wrap-up press meet (Indian Embassy said she was unwell).
At a time when Washington is searching for an exit strategy from the Af-Pak region, a statement released at the end of her visit (in lieu of the cancelled press conference) tersely noted that “she (Rao) reiterated India's long-held position that it was important for the international community to stay the present course in Afghanistan for as long as it is necessary.'' The international community on the other hand wants to get the hell out of Afghanistan — yesterday.

There were other unresolved issues. Rao's engagement was also partly torpedoed by the withdrawal by the government of the nuclear liability bill in Parliament hours after her arrival here. As a result, there was little progress on tying up loose ends of the civilian nuclear deal including an agreement on reprocessing although there were brave words about the deal being on track and on schedule.

Most notably, on the issue of high-tech cooperation, the Indian side was still pleading for removal of some its organizations from the so-called Entities List, seven years after the establishment of the group. “The Indian side requested the US department of commerce to review US export controls applicable to India and update them to bring them in keeping with the changed political realities that contextualize India-US strategic partnership today,'' the concluding statement said.

To say India has become a mere sideshow in Washington would be overstating it (besides meeting Clinton, Rao also called on the NSA Jim Jones and two key lawmakers on a day Washington was awash with the health care issue and the US-Israel spat). There were important advances in bilateral matters, including setting the stage for external affairs minister S M Krishna's visit to Washington shortly leading in turn to President Obama's visit to New Delhi later this year.

But on the Af-Pak issue, India is clearly out of the loop. Pakistan is again the new game in town. Even as the Indian foreign secretary made the rounds of a capital in political and legislative ferment (over the health care bill), diplomatic corridors were abuzz with Afghan president Hamid Karzai's own outreach to the Taliban through his brothers and Pakistan's effort to impose itself on that engagement.

Rao meanwhile was telling think-tankers that Taliban remained untouchables for New Delhi. India's gripe about US arms to Pakistan also went largely unaddressed. In fact, even as Rao was complaining about the potential use by Pakistan of US-supplied weapons against India, Washington had delivered from its base in Jordan a squadron of 14 AH-1 Cobra advanced helicopter gunships to Pakistan.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-out-of-the-loop-on-Af-Pak/articleshow/5695716.cms
 

johnee

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Pakjabi thinktank seems to be buoyant with its new found supposed importance in Washington's scheme of things in this region. Lets see how long it lasts....
IMHO, they are celebrating too early....
 
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Singh

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Pakjabi thinktank seems to be buoyant with its new found supposed importance in Washington's scheme of things in this region. Lets see how long it lasts....
IMHO, they are celebrating to early....
1. What is Pakjabi ?
2. Why shouldn't they be exuberant ?
3. Why in your opinion should they not celebrate ?

C'mon Johnee write something useful.
 

johnee

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1. What is Pakjabi ?
2. Why shouldn't they be exuberant ?
3. Why in your opinion should they not celebrate ?

C'mon Johnee write something useful.
C'mon Singh, are we all writing some thesis here, hain? The comment was an opinion stated...

1.Pakjabi(Pakistani Punjabis, the dominant group in Pakistan that literally controls the levers of power within Pakistan through PA)
2.Well, they have every right to be exuberant at the seeming retreat of India from what they consider to be their backyard(Astan), but I think the celebrations are premature because as they say.... picture abhi baki hai mere dost.
3.look at (2)
 

Singh

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C'mon Singh, are we all writing some thesis here, hain? The comment was an opinion stated...

1.Pakjabi(Pakistani Punjabis, the dominant group in Pakistan that literally controls the levers of power within Pakistan through PA)
2.Well, they have every right to be exuberant at the seeming retreat of India from what they consider to be their backyard(Astan), but I think the celebrations are premature because as they say.... picture abhi baki hai mere dost.
3.look at (2)
1. Nawaz Sharif is the "leader" of Punjab and he doesn't see eye to eye with the PA. There is a huge anti-PA wave in Pakistan. Punjabis are the ones opposed to WoT, Lal Masjid action, forced the ouster of Mushy, anti-drone strikes, pro-peace with Taliban.
2. Why is the picture baaki mere dost ? Give some reasoning or you are merely making a prediction ?
 
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johnee

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1. Nawaz Sharif is the "leader" of Punjab and he doesn't see eye to eye with the PA. There is a huge anti-PA wave in Pakistan. Punjabis are the ones opposed to WoT, Lal Masjid action, forced the ouster of Mushy, anti-drone strikes, pro-peace with Taliban.
2. Why is the picture baaki mere dost ? Give some reasoning or you are merely making a prediction ?
1.All the non-military leaders count to zilch, the only powerbroker in Pakistan in PA which is pakjabi dominated from its inception and looks after the interests of pakjabis.
2.Picture is always baki mere dost, until and unless it is settled once and for all. Astan is not settled and the shadow-boxing is likely to continue, all the countries that have interest in Astan will definitely try to guide that nation's 'politics' in the direction that is advantageous to their nation. Offence and defence are part and parcel of the game. IMHO, India is rightnow on defensive posture compared to it aggressively pursuing projects in Astan earlier .
 

Singh

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1.All the non-military leaders count to zilch, the only powerbroker in Pakistan in PA which is pakjabi dominated from its inception and looks after the interests of pakjabis.
2.Picture is always baki mere dost, until and unless it is settled once and for all. Astan is not settled and the shadow-boxing is likely to continue, all the countries that have interest in Astan will definitely try to guide that nation's 'politics' in the direction that is advantageous to their nation. Offence and defence are part and parcel of the game. IMHO, India is rightnow on defensive posture compared to it aggressively pursuing projects in Astan earlier .
1. PA certainly can and does call the shots, to fulfill their own objectives. I have already shown with specific examples that the Punjabi and PA interests don't necessarily converge. You can also have a look at the Election results. A vehemently anti-PA and pro-Taliban party won the election in Punjab (North). Some South Punjab groups are waging a brutal terror campaign against the "Pakjabi" Army and "Pakjabi" Jageerdars. Explain that too ? (For further info you can read Ayesha Siddiqa's book Military Inc. on what PA is all about.)

2. Yes. So ? Please add something of substance rather than Ad Nauseam.
 

johnee

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1. PA certainly can and does call the shots, to fulfill their own objectives. I have already shown with specific examples that the Punjabi and PA interests don't necessarily converge. You can also have a look at the Election results. A vehemently anti-PA and pro-Taliban party won the election in Punjab (North). Some South Punjab groups are waging a brutal terror campaign against the "Pakjabi" Army and "Pakjabi" Jageerdars. Explain that too ? (For further info you can read Ayesha Siddiqa's book Military Inc. on what PA is all about.)

2. Yes. So ? Please add something of substance rather than Ad Nauseam.
1. When all the political leaders are propped and dumped by PA as it wishes, where is the point of one leader not seeing eye to eye with PA? Also are taliban and PA enemies? PA still regards them as assets. South Punjab of Pakistan mostly occupied by poorer population(I think they are poorer punjabis and seriakis who are mostly disgruntled with PA for various reasons ). Let me refine myself here and say that PA looks after the interests of the elite and upper middle class pakjabis who are mostly directly or indirectly dependent on PA for their financial well-being through the various commercial ventures that PA floats.

2. Didnt know it would be nauseating to you. Anyway, the initial post was concise and quite simple, it was you who wanted me to explain it, when I do, you are nauseated!!
 

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Why India's diplomacy is in disarray

India [ Images ] has a substantial policy crisis on its hands with the US indicating that the Taliban [ Images ] did not pose a direct threat to its interests, writes M K Bhadrakumar

The United States couldn't have chosen a worse moment to reveal its mind on the Taliban than on Thursday evening even as the details were filtering in regarding the car bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. Worse still, the Taliban lost no time claiming responsibility for the attack, which claimed 17 lives.

A senior US official in deep-briefing in Washington unveiled the thinking prevailing in the White House: The Taliban did not pose a direct threat to the US and, therefore, America's war on terror in South Asia would rather focus on tackling Al Qaeda [ Images ] inside Pakistan.

Of course, he added, Washington will "not tolerate their (Taliban's) return to power," but the US would only fight to keep the Taliban from retaking control of the central government and from giving sanctuary to Al Qaeda. The official further said Washington was bowing to the reality that the fundamentalist movement is too ingrained in Afghan national culture, as it has been for some time, and needs to be accepted in some role in parts of the country.

We have the first official signal that the Barack Obama [ Images ] administration is now inclined to send only as many more troops to Afghanistan as are needed to keep Al Qaeda at bay.

The stunning news is that the US has reframed the question 'who is the US's adversary?' What we are now to believe is that the Al Qaeda terror network is distinct from the Taliban and the US military has been for eight years fighting the Taliban even though it posed no direct threat to America.

In the history of wars, such an incredible somersault has never probably been attempted by human ingenuity. The US diplomats will now fan out from their embassies in world capitals and propagate that the Taliban has no agenda to harm other countries. This was exactly what they used to propagate a decade ago until their own embassies in Kenya and Tanzania got bombed and a gaping hole was put into USS Cole by a jihadi.

Clearly, Obama is content with ensuring that Al Qaeda doesn't regroup in Afghanistan as was the case before the 9/11 attacks. The limited American mission implies that the US will in immediate terms require only a small increase in its troop levels in Afghanistan. Most important, the US has decided to pivot its regional strategy by strengthening the Pakistani military and encouraging it to take the battle to extremists inside its borders.

All this adds up to a very substantial policy crisis for our government. The much-touted US-India strategic partnership is in tatters. The partnership is an illusion when the two sides cannot even see eye to eye on what constitutes a threat to their national security.

Curiously, the greatest irony of it all is that this should happen on the first anniversary of the nuclear deal breathing life. No less ironical is that we are still being hoodwinked about the so-called strategic partnership merely because the US President has decided that the first state banquet of his presidency will be held in honour of our prime minister.

The American gesture is completely comprehensible insofar as in all the 62 years of India's independent history, the US never had such a fabulously good fortune to have an Indian political elite ensconced in power in New Delhi [ Images ] that would bend with an ease and agility that will put David Beckham [ Images ] to shame, to ingratiate India into the US geo-strategies. Even then, as the Americans say, there is nothing like a free lunch.

After the dinner in the White House in November, our prime minister is sure to feel some pressure on his elbow as the American arm-twisting begins on awarding the upcoming multi-billion dollar defence contracts to Rayethon or Lockheed or Northrop. That is indeed going to be the price the nation will pay for our prime minister being honoured with the first state banquet of the Obama presidency.

What bothers us is how does the US-India strategic partnership work for the country's interests? We are sick and tired of this spin that our prime minister is a tall figure in the world community and that he rubs shoulders with Obama. What matters is what do we get at the end of the day out of the never-ending photo-ops in London [ Images ] or L'Aquila or Pittsburg.

It is a pathetic sight that we are today, one year down the lane, saddled with a nuclear deal that is best kept mothballed in a cloistered chamber as far away from public view as possible. We sacrificed our friendly ties with Iran on the altar of this nuclear deal. And what we find today is that the nuclear deal lies in limbo and Obama is bending over backwards to engage Iran while we don't know how to clear the debris of our lost friendship with Tehran.

India's regional isolation today is total and that is the price we have paid for aspiring to work 'shoulder to shoulder' with the US, to quote our prime minister. The Obama administration is gearing up to engage Iran, Russia [ Images ], China and the Central Asian states over the Afghan problem but will neatly sidestep India in deference to Pakistani sensitivities.

Gone are the days when we used to daydream about becoming the 'Asian balancer' in the international system.

Gone are the days when we fancied we would have a quadripartite alliance of Asian democracies with the US, Japan [ Images ] and Australia [ Images ] with a view to 'contain' China.

Gone are the days when Washington would have us believe that the US is single-mindedly working to make India a first-rate world power.

Gone are the days when we believed that the US regarded India as the pre-eminent power in the Indian Ocean region.

Gone are the days when we fancied that the US recognised India, finally, as a nuclear power and lifted the 'nuclear apartheid'.

Like autumn leaves, we are left with a huge, miserable-looking heap of broken dreams. Whoever thought a day would come when we couldn't even agree with the Americans as to who were the Taliban we both have been fighting against all these years?

M K Bhadrakumar is a former diplomat
 

Energon

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The AfPak policy has been crafted by the USA in order to resolve the seemingly hopeless situation that is Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is organized, funded and manned by the US, and it is they who make the executive decisions on all matters related to this policy.

So having said that let's establish a few facts...
1. India has absolutely nothing to do with Af-Pak.
I don't know why this simple fact seems to escape so many Indians and Pakistanis who then do a disservice to themselves by writing idiotic op ed pieces showcasing their immaturity and lack of critical thinking skills.

2. Pakistan's delusion inspired mess in Afghanistan seems to have come full circle with a bang so to speak. The US admittedly had a part to play in the creation of this mess and we are paying our dues (and then some). The AfPak policy is a last ditch attempt to salvage a situation in a region which still resembles the stone age where the only advancement comes in the form of Kalashnikov rifles and explosive devices. Here again India has absolutely no involvement, and to imagine their own significance when they are clearly not involved or needed is pointless and foolish, it'll only serve as an embarrassment. The same is true for Pakistan who keeps conjuring up one ridiculous conspiracy theory after another at the expense of their own sense of reality and not to mention their dignity. There are no uncircumcised Hindu Zionist boogymen in Afghanistan orchestrating bomb blasts in Lahore or peeking through Maria B's bedroom window.

3. There is no denying however that India has a stake in Afghanistan. There is a direct correlation between violence in Afghanistan and the ongoings in the Kashmir region as evinced by the trends in 1989, 1996 and then in 1999. There is also a direct link between the radicalism spawned in Pakistan, violence in Afghanistan and global jihad. All of this results in astronomical costs for India in terms of capital and human resource. It is clear that India needs to either pitch in to stabilize Afghanistan or at least gather as much intelligence as possible so as to avoid disastrous confrontations for which they are caught unprepared, yet again. India has a good relationship with Afghanistan, they have done a lot of constructive work there and as long as they remain in good stead with the Afghan people by abstaining from violence and other delusions of grandeur involving "great games" or "strategic depths" it is unlikely their influence will diminish. Roads, schools, hospitals, government buildings and aid money is the way to garner influence in Afghanistan, not through James Bond wanna be cartoons.

In short, everyone get a reality check.
 
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johnee

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Clarification: my comment was not directed at Neo, it was directed at pakistani thinktank/administration which is PA....
 
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nitesh

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this is misplaced sensitiveness, what exactly people have to say about this:

From managing the Ambanis’ money to managing Pakistan’s finances, what a day!

http://www.thenews.com.pk/top_story_detail.asp?Id=27844

.................

Now why would a man about to take oath of the vaulted office of the finance minister of the Islamic(emphasis intended) republic of Pakistan dash back to Dubai? One wonders. Well what else would you do if you were managing a massive US$1 billion plus hedge fund which happened to be owned by the biggest Indian tycoons, the Ambanis. Obviously, you got to go back, make a couple of calls to Bombay, seek their blessings, apply for a leave of absence, and only then fly back to Islamabad and start looking after the Paki money. Now, it doesnít hurt either to have the comfort of knowing that if the Pakistan experience doesnít work you can always fly back to the golden Indian nest. By the way, the hedge fund is called New Silk Route Partners (NRS). Itís a US$ 1.4 billion hedge fund owned by Ambaniís with local partners from Dxb Rajat Gupta.
..............
 

Neo

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Pakjabi thinktank seems to be buoyant with its new found supposed importance in Washington's scheme of things in this region. Lets see how long it lasts....
IMHO, they are celebrating too early....
You mean Punjabi Think Tank right?
What has Punjab to do with the article, its written Chidanand Rajghatta, TNN...an Indian.
 

Neo

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Clarification: my Pakjab comment was not directed at Neo, it was directed at pakistani thinktank/administration which is PA....
Thanks for clarification, no offence taken. Still I would prefer to use Punjab or Punjabi to refer to the Pakistani province. We're all grown ups, no need to call made up names, it degrades the level of debate.
Thanks!
 

Neo

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Lets not go off-topic, India out of the loop on Af-Pak. Imho if India's interests are genuinly of economic nature than she has nothing to worry about her $1 billion investment as many donor will remain involved in the post war build up in Afghanistan. AS for the Geo-politics, its definitely a blow for India.
 

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Investments of India will definitely not be safe if there is a Taliban takeover of Astan again. No doubt about that. India is obviously not making investment just for the sake of it. India has larger aims. Central Asian oil is a big target for India. Get it through Astan and into Iran. India made a port in Iran. Road from Iran into Astan. It all adds up.
 

GokuInd

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Also take the Farkhor Air Base in Tajikistan into consideration.
 

DaRk WaVe

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Afghanistan's brother Pakistan trumps friend India

By Uddipan Mukherjee
Column: Machine GunPublished: March 17, 2010TOOLBAR

Kolkata, India — It’s time for India to pack up and leave Afghanistan, as no one wants it to stay there anymore. The Taliban and the Pakistani government never wanted it in the first place, and now even its friend Afghan President Hamid Karzai – admittedly under pressure – no longer wants India to interfere in the country’s affairs. It is just a matter of time now till India withdraws; only the modalities need to be sorted out.
Karzai’s visit to Pakistan on March 10, during which he agreed to arrange a series of peace “jirgas” – decision-making assemblies with male elders or tribal leaders – with “active Pakistani involvement” made it clear that finally U.S.-Pakistan camaraderie in the global war on terror is bearing true fruit.

The United States has disbursed the Kerry-Lugar aid package – financial assistance to strengthen Pakistan's civilian institutions – to the civil administration of Pakistan. In return, the Pakistani authorities have acted with energy in tightening the noose around the Taliban by pumping in resources to the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas in order to continue the military offensive.

Ground operations in Pakistan’s Swat valley have also gone forward with enthusiasm. And to add to the list of accomplishments, several top Taliban commanders have been arrested in Pakistan, the big fish being Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, second in the hierarchy to Mullah Mohammad Omar, the Taliban’s top leader.

Pakistan should be praised for its cunning diplomatic moves. It has appeased the Americans by acting against the Taliban without totally alienating the Taliban.

Moreover, the civil administration seems to have handled pressures from the judiciary well, at least for the time being. Furthermore, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani configured proper arrangements with the chief of army staff Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, evident from the service extension of Ahmad Shuja Pasha, the chief of Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence.

India, however, appears to have bungled its own diplomatic initiatives. It did invest substantial finances in rebuilding war-torn Afghanistan, even completing the 200-kilometer Delaram-Zaranj highway. But it was never unambiguous in its approach.

What did India actually want to achieve in Afghanistan? Did it want to thwart Pakistani efforts to establish strategic depth? Did it wish to use Afghanistan as a springboard into resource-rich Central Asia? Or was it just an economic venture? Only India’s foreign policy establishment can answer these queries.

Nevertheless, today even Karzai has come to terms with reality. He knows that in order to entrench himself in the seat of authority, he has to do three things.

First, he should be on mutually agreeable terms with the Americans. Thus, he must negotiate with the Pakistani government.

Second, he needs to bring the Taliban – either the “good” or the “bad” or both – to the discussion table. To implement that, he must again appeal to the Pakistanis because of their close links with key Taliban leaders.

Third, in order to make the first two issues a reality, he must not alienate the Pakistani civil-military elite in any manner. Thus, a natural corollary is to maintain a safe distance from the Indians.

All of the above three moves would directly hurt Indian interests in the region.

Actually, India’s calculations regarding Afghanistan were spectacularly misleading. It probably believed, definitely on an emotional note, that the United States could be bought by the nuclear deal, its vote against Iran, stalling the Indo-Iran gas pipeline and other nice rhetoric.

But the United States wanted a far stronger ally, which could bring not only finances but also military might into Afghanistan if needed. And India vacillated on this point, torn by Gandhi-Nehru doctrinal ideology and post-Cold War realities.

Finally, India succumbed to indecision, which has been the hallmark of Indian foreign policy ever since the country gained independence.

So when the India-educated Karzai says, “India is a close friend of Afghanistan but Pakistan is a brother of Afghanistan. Pakistan is a twin brother. We are conjoined twins, there’s no separation,” India surely must shiver.

In fact, this was inevitable and the signs were long apparent, at the London Conference on Afghanistan in January for example. India just did not pick up the signals on its radar, or perhaps simply did not heed the vibrations on the screen – which seems most likely.

--

(Uddipan Mukherjee has a doctorate in physics from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India. He writes on international relations and security issues pertaining to India. He blogs at: Machine Gun. ©Copyright Uddipan Mukherjee.)

link: http://www.upiasia.com/Politics/2010/03/17/afghanistans_brother_pakistan_trumps_friend_india/8682/
 
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Neo

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Investments of India will definitely not be safe if there is a Taliban takeover of Astan again. No doubt about that. India is obviously not making investment just for the sake of it. India has larger aims. Central Asian oil is a big target for India. Get it through Astan and into Iran. India made a port in Iran. Road from Iran into Astan. It all adds up.
Afaik, India has only invested in infrastructure, i.e. roads, buildings and other infrastructure. I don't see how all this would be in jeoperdy incase Taliban seized power.
 

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