Pak-India ties & Afghanistan
Wednesday, March 06, 2013 – India see itself as a rising regional power and as it is said that rising powers seek to enhance their security and agenda by increasing their capabilities and their control over the external environment so India is doing exactly the same by adopting a more proactive role in its extended neighborhood that is Afghanistan so that they can control the external environment post 2014 after the withdrawal of NATO/US forces from Afghanistan. Given the adversial nature of India-Pakistan relations and divergent interest of both the countries, Indian involvement in Afghanistan is viewed with suspicion in Pakistan.
India is pursuing a range of strategies to advance its interest by seeking political, economic and military influence in Afghanistan, for that India has established a substantial diplomatic presence in Afghanistan, after the Taliban fell India upgraded its liaison office to full- fledged Embassy in Kabul and also established consulates in Kandahar, Jalalabad, Heart and Mazar-e-Sharif.
This will enable India to establish relationships with local leaders which will help India to influence the politics of Afghanistan because India wants to play a very pro-active role in the political formation of Afghanistan after 2014 because India will not like to see Taliban coming back to power which are very much considered pro Pakistan in India and anti Indian because India supported soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and helped Northern Alliance during the Taliban rule.
India would like to see post 2014 Afghanistan having a pro Indian Government so that they can pursue their interest in the region under the shield of economic and infrastructure development without any hindrance. Pakistan sees that Delhi also uses these consulates particularly Jalalabad and Kandahar to collect intelligence and support separatists in Baluchistan.
Indian aid in the form of money and infrastructure development to Afghanistan is considered as to seek economic influence in the country as India is among the six top donors of Afghanistan and in its efforts to gain greater access to Central Asian Energy Resources Delhi will need to develop an effective trade and transportation infrastructure in Afghanistan to connect with CARs. For that India has constructed a 220-kilometer road between the Afghan cities of Zaranj and Delaram in 2008–2009 near Iranian border so that they can have access to Iranian port of Chabahar by this India will not need Pakistan in order to have trade with CARs. Such developments would seriously affect the strategic importance of Pakistan in the region and also undermines the importance of Gawadr port.
Strategic partnership agreement between India and Afghanistan which was signed in Oct 2011 when Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited India commits India to provide light weapons, as well as training in COIN and high-altitude warfare, to the Afghan army, police, and air force is seen as a regional instability factor because Pakistan will not tolerate any kind of India military presence in Afghanistan considering the deeply rooted enmity between the two countries particularly between the two forces. These steps in Pakistan are considered as Indian deliberate strategy to strategically squeeze and encircle Pakistan which aimed at trapping and ultimately destroying Pakistan between hostile fronts.
Withdrawal of NATO/US forces will obviously leave a power vacuum in Afghanistan considering the week central government and ineffectiveness of Afghan National Forces to control the situation independently. Pakistan and India are two important countries of the region and their divergent interests in region particularly Afghanistan will push Afghanistan into further turmoil which will not be a healthy sign for the regional stability as well as for both countries too.
A long lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan will be in the interest of both the countries because it will stabilize the region and make the economic potential of the region accessible. For that all the stake holders in Afghanistan should show some leverage in their vested competing interest and come with a common agenda which is fully acceptable to Afghan people so that a war torn country should ride on a path of stability and economic progress. This will be a very encouraging sign for economic development of the South Asian Region as a whole.(Zeeshan Hayat)