Bilateral groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests
Effect of policies and politics of developing countries on India’s interests
On a recent visit to India, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani held a close consultation on key issues with PM Modi. The visit is considered significant in the backdrop of rising Taliban militancy as well as Afghanistan’s demand for increased defence supplies from India. India is one of the biggest donor to Afghanistan pledging two billion in support for reconstruction programme in war torn countries. When compared the two day visit of September 2016 to April 2015’s visit, there is a very marked difference.
When President Ghani came to power in September 2014, his first visit was to China, then to Pakistan, USA, Saudi Arabia and Iran. India came much lower in reckoning. He had drawn a scheme of 4 concentric circles and India was in 4th circle. After coming to power, Afghanistan had great hopes in Pakistan that it will bring Taliban to the negotiating table with Afghanistan and also Pakistan will be able to impress upon Taliban that they should stop their attacks on Afghanistan. However, all these hopes have been belied now.
Since 2002, when Taliban went out of Afghanistan, India has committed and given more than 2 billion dollars. Additional 1 billion dollar in aid in development and economic progress is being provide by PM Modi in September 2016.
India has till now invested 10.8 billion dollars in Afghanistan- setting up iron mines, six steel plants and 800MW power plant, hydroelectric power projects, transition line, roads etc. Besides this, India has also given the aid of additional two billion dollars for reconstruction.
India in Afghanistan
Such initiatives and aids will take the cooperation forward as India has been engaged and involved effectively in Afghanistan- Parliament building, Pul-e-Khumri transmission line power project, Salma dam and Store palace (Darul Aman palace).
Now, there has been deepening of engagement across the board. This time, collaboration was outer space collaboration, capacity development, world class pharmaceutical, solar alliance. The opportunities are enormous at government level as well as private sector of two countries.
Connectivity– India is helping Afghanistan to connect it with Iran. It will be a game-changer project.
Afghanistan is a land locked country. Chabahar port development will connect to Zaranj- Delaram road to Afghanistan, from there it will connect to central Asia. The connectivity with India where India and Afghanistan have been connected with each other for centuries and Pakistan does not permit Afghanistan to send its products through its own territory by land to India, so they are not able to take advantage of Indian market in terms supplying their own Kandhari Anar, Herati saffron and they are not able take benefit of Indian market. The trilateral agreement in May 2016 between India, Afghanistan and Iran to develop Chabahar can prove to be a game changer. Pipeline connectivity is also considered to help in Afghanistan development.
Both India and Afghanistan have collaborated and signed strategic partnership agreement. Also, India gifted three Mi25 to Afghanistan which were used earlier when dealing with the Taliban when they had established control over Kunduz in north of Afghanistan.
Both governments are considering more equipment, armament, weaponry, whether small arms and ammunition that should be supplied to Afghanistan to take care of its security and stability and introducing peace.
The common problem
Afghanistan has now become wise to Pakistan. It has understood that Pakistan is lying when it is saying that it is trying to restrain Taliban, but instead they are helping Taliban to launch attacks against Afghanistan. So they are now disillusioned. Few weeks ago, Afghanistan President threatened Pakistan to allow their products to come to India else they will stop the access of Pakistan to central Asian countries. So relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are not healthy as before.
Pakistan is supporting terrorism, both India and Afghanistan have to deal effectively with menace of Taliban. Bangladesh and Iran have also become victim of Pakistan militancy. These are serious problems where Pakistan is destabilising the region.
How to prevent such actions from Pakistan?
Pakistan has emerged as epicentre of terrorism where the terrorists have come, trained, indoctrinated, sent back to carry out terrorist attacks. Across the world wherever the terrorist attacks are taking place, there is signature of Pakistan. In Iraq and Syria, many of fighters have gone from Pakistan.
Thus, to tackle the militancy and prevent Pakistan from taking such steps, just like in recent G20 summit and also at the East Asia summit, PM has said that countries which are providing sanctuary, funding terrorist should be isolated and should be sanctioned.
Need for collaborative approach to fight terrorism.
Afghanistan army is not fully train to deal with terrorism. There should be a regional cooperation between countries to fight terrorism. After the withdrawal of US forces, NATO and ICEF forces, the responsibility rally devolves upon the neighbouring countries.
In the neighbourhood, Pakistan is looking for strategic depth as far as Afghanistan is concerned. China doesn’t seem to be really interested, even the initiatives that India has taken in the UN under 1267 resolution to have people like Lakhvi, Masood Azhar to be designated as terrorists, China is not taking it seriously. China is not able to wear down upon Pakistan as so far it has not experienced any negative impact of terrorism.
But all countries, whether central Asia, Russia, China, have to come together and draw security architecture. India has now option of ‘Heart of Asia’ where discussion to stabilise Afghanistan continues.
There is responsibility of the international community dealing with the militancy. The powerful countries and organisations need to impose embargo on countries which are promoting terrorism in region. Very small troops to counter terrorism remain in Afghanistan, mainly it is for training and intelligence and practically none for operation. Hence there is need for countries to come together and sanction such countries. But there are countries which look at terrorism in their own interest and hence don’t take strict action against the ‘terrorist sheltering’ countries. Terrorism should not be viewed through prism of politics. The whole world needs to come together and present a solid unified front against the menace of terrorism.
Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process
The Istanbul Process provides a new agenda for regional cooperation in the ‘Heart of Asia’ by placing Afghanistan at its center.
The countries participating in the Istanbul process look forward for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, as well as a secure and prosperous region as a whole.
HoA conference was held in Delhi in April 2016 with key elements being devising sustained, incremental approach to implementation of the confidence building measures (CBM) in Afghanistan
There are 14 Heart of Asia countries
Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and UAE.
The supporting countries are
Australia, Canada, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Iraq, Japan, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, U.K., U.S. and the E.U.
Connecting the dots:
India and Afghanistan has seen visible rise in the bilateral strategic partnership amongst the SAARC nations. Discuss the importance of stronger India-Afghanistan relationship.