RSTV- The Big Picture : Indian, Pakistani & US Interests in Afghanistan

  • IASbaba
  • October 31, 2017
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The Big Picture- RSTV
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Indian, Pakistani & US Interests in Afghanistan


TOPIC: General Studies 2

  • India and its neighbourhood- relations.
  • Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests

The US which is the most significant foreign player in Afghanistan has a policy which is about restraining Pakistan in Afghanistan. The key lies in how to make Pakistanis change their policies and behavior in Afghanistan. Unless that happens, there is hardly any proper solution to move towards peace in Afghanistan.

The Pakistanis through their proxies in Afghanistan are sending unmistakable message to Americans that unless their interest as they perceive are catered for, they will not cooperate. It is interesting that their pre-condition is that India’s role must be constrained in Afghanistan. Economically India can play a role but not politically or militarily. This is strange as what role India will play should be decided by Afghanistan and India.

Pakistan has this perception because earlier, Americans used to say they are fighting war against global terror with Pakistan. Now, with the Aghan policy, India has been included in this war against terror. Pakistan is mattered by

  1. Drone attacks by US if sovereignty interest of US is getting compromised.
  2. US can choke funding whenever they want.

Pakistan has nurtured Taliban to re-emerge in Afghanistan. If Indian are around, they have a threat to perform such functions

Security situation in Afghanistan

They have 34 provinces and 360 districts, Taliban controls 10% of the district and 40% of rural areas and also south and east Afghanistan. Afghan National Security Forces are in control of major towns and cities and are able to reinforce their positions every time districts are being overtaken by Taliban.  This is an ongoing process. Neither the Afghan government, nor the Taliban are in the position to tactically or strategically alter the balance of military in significant manner. Thus the issue of peace is pushed behind. To complicate the situation, there is presence of ISIS in some parts of Afghanistan.

So it is triangular battle- the Taliban are fighting ISIS and Afghan National Security Forces are fighting both. So the military situation is likely to remain volatile in future.

ISIS is challenge which requires effort on part of everyone concerned with afghan situation.

The foremost challenge is created by Taliban in Afghanistan. The composition of ISIS is Tehrik-e-Taliban of Pakistan and also Salafi elements from eastern Afghanistan. The Russians and the Chinese are worried about these threats due to getting closer to central Asian republics.

US moving out?

For lasting peace, the internal security situation of Afghanistan will have to improve. The outsider can hold for sometime by doing training. The technology, information systems, additional troops are going to help, but its more of message from US that it is not moving out of Afghanistan.

The US is helping to upgrade the capability of Afghan Airforce as well as Afghan Special Forces.

India’s role

India should always act in Afghanistan as an independent power. The American intentions are good and shall be welcomed as long as there is coincidence of interest in Afghanistan. This new change in America is good for India as well as Afghanistan.

India’s economic policy of engagement must continue. India-Afghan strategic partnership agreement, India should extend support to afghan in security field as much as possible unmindful of what anyone else thinks. This is a bilateral India-afghan relationship and that should be nurtured.

However, by no means India shouldn’t send ground troops to Afghanistan. It should focus more on economic and infrastructural assistance. Though US prefer to have more direct input from India in the military endeavour in Afghanistan, India should limit its role of supplying older, Russian-origin military hardware for repair and replacement purposes.

Currently, people and government of Afghanistan is positive of India because it helps Afghanistan in the areas it requires to develop such as education, health tourism and medical support.


Peace in Afghanistan is dependent upon security situation around Afghanistan. It also depends on

  1. American support and presence to close sanctuaries
  2. Under the financial action task force, they can squeeze the Pakistan’s international financial arrangement. Under this threat, Pakistanis took action against Hafeez Saeed recently.

The current Afghan policy is a change of strategy was meant to be an “incentive for Pakistan to change” its course. If such a calculation is accepted it would mean that at some point down the road, the US, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have to sit at a table. However, there is a long way ahead and critical steps being taken before such action is even thought of.

Connecting the dots:

  • Critically analyse India’s role in Afghanistan vis-à-vis presence of US and Pakistan.

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