India-Afghanistan : Challenges


Kabuliwala -> Rabindranath Tagore –>  underlines age old relations between two countries.
Indo-Afghan Friendship Treaty in 1950 -> aid programmes have reached to large part of Afghanistan
To help create an enabling environment for the Afghan people to realise their vision of a functioning democracy that contributes to regional peace and prosperity, Afghanistan and India signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement in 2011
India provided Afghanistan four MI-25 helicopters to enhance its air capability in the fight against a relentless terror campaign.
China, Iran and Russia –> need to collaborate with Afghanistan and India –> SCO –> All effected by terrorism
Critically examine how does the latest political, economic and security transitions in Afghanistan pose new challenges to India’s interests in the region. (200 Words)
Afghanistan stands to be an important country for India owing to its strategic location of being a gateway to central Asia and its stability/instability having a direct/indirect impact on India in general and J&K in particular. In this perspective the recent transition on political and security fronts brings new challenges for India.
The recent elections failed to provide an elected government resulting into power sharing between the two main presidential candidates. With both having ideological differences on various issues, this can lead to differences and instability on political front which can be nurtured by countries like Pakistan and China to reduce India’s influence in the country.
Recent multiple visits of ISI chief to Afghanistan is an example towards this. This can create challenges for Indian influence and its efforts of building democratic institutions, deepening democracy etc. Also projects like TAPI pipeline will continue to be in delay mode.
Secondly the transition of security responsibility in the hands of Afghan forces from International Security Assistance forces (ISAF) forces after their withdrawal poses another challenge. Any sort of failure into this can lead to emergence of non-state actors like Taliban, Let manipulated by Pakistan.
This poses grave threat to India’s developmental projects like dams, roads, railways, agricultural university etc. This situation can led to the country becoming a hub of terrorist activities which will also have a spillover effect on India’s frontiers.
Further the insecurity over continuous international funding to the country along with low developed domestic economy according to its demand makes it prey to other countries. As an example it can move closer to Pakistan under various pressures for sea route connectivity giving a big challenge for India’s effort to provide the same to the country via rail link through Chabahar port of Iran.
Therefore it is crucial for India to take the ruling political class in confidence of continuous support on various fronts including economic, military, developmental. This will not only reduce any chances of instability but will further raise India’s credentials in the country which has increased significantly over the recent years.
Should India open diplomatic channels to talk to Afghan Taliban and try to bring peace to the region? Critically comment. (200 Words)
The decision of India opening talks with Afghan Taliban has to be taken after due consideration of merits and demerits of the case. So far, demerits have held sway, but considering changing geopolitical scenario and international equations, it is time for a rethink.
  1. Taliban is no longer a monolith, but comprises various strands of which not all are averse to talks.
  2. India’s role in Afghanistan has diminished lately, due to Afghan-China-Pak trilateral talks with Taliban to resolve the issue and with apparent tilt of Ashraf Ghani towards its immediate neighbours
  3. Social capital India enjoys in Afghanistan can be leveraged to become an important stakeholder in the peace process. If successful, it is sure to boost India’s image as peace-promoting nation. India has invested $2 billion in Afghanistan.
  4. In future, if Taliban chooses to accept political frame and finds space in the govt, India’ relationship with that govt is sure to get due favour
  1. Any back-channel talks with Afghan Taliban are likely to opposed by Pakistan, as it disagrees with India’s role in Afghanistan altogether
  2. As India cannot have direct impact on conditions prevailing in Afghanistan, Taliban groups may not be interested to open talks
  3. Talks with Taliban will mean abandoning its long-held belief of not interacting with terrorist organization.
However, these demerits supposedly are for legacy reasons, of not much significance with changing times. Exercising realpolitik, it would be prudent on India’s part to open channels for talks with Taliban and carve out its due space in reconciliation process in war-ravaged country.
It is argued that India is unable to devise prudent and timely strategies to engage the north-western region despite losing its strategic edge to other players in Afghanistan. Critically examine the reasons and suggest, in your opinion, what should India do to become a major player in the north-western region. (200 Words)
The northwest Asia has been seeing some dynamic changes lately due to which India is losing its strategic edge in the region.
  1. Withdrawal of US forces in Afghanistan and India’s refusal to provide militarily support to Afghanistan
  2. The change of government in Afghanistan resulting in changing equations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Under new government’s five circle policy,”Pakistan” is in the innermost circle of locals and “India” is in the circle of neighbours.
  3. Increasing presence of terrorist groups like Taliban and LeT, even IS to compensate for power vacuum created by US Forces.
  4. China’s increasing strategic presence in the region, by implementing is “one belt one road” program.
  5. Rise of Iran as a major game-player in the region after the nuclear deal.
India needs to follow a better approach to tackle these issues and regain its strategic presence in the region.
  1. Enhance diplomatic engagements with key neighbourhood countries such as Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan; focus level on these countries should be as same as that on global powers such as EU, US etc.
  2. Move beyond compulsive bilateralism; go for multilateral groupings to provide meaningful solutions to in neighbourhood as presently provided by China.
  3. Initiate a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan; to come up with regional solutions for regional problems; recognizing the fact that Pakistan holds a strategic location in the region.
  4. India needs to realize China’s rising importance in this region and both countries as major powers in the region needs to work together for stabilising and developing the region.
  5. Expedition of Indian projects that have been stalled in these countries.
  6. Provide soft loans and know-how for nation-building and skill development and encourage people-people interactions in the form of cultural and educational exchanges.
For India to achieve status of major player in north western region; we need a refocus in form of “pivot to north-west” policy.
It is argued that Afghanistan can overcome its security problems by performing well on economic front. Critically analyse how Afghanistan can improve its economy and what role can India play in this regard. (200 Words)
Afghanistan is known for 2 things worldwide viz. Terrorism hub and poor state of administration. Both of these complement each other. Both have common reasons of existence that is economic deprivation. Afghanistan can improve the economic deprivation and how India can help is as under:
  1. Afghanistan is rich in mineral deposit like; Bamiyan Mountains are rich in marbles, lime stones, quartz and other stone minerals. Also, mountain Tora Bora region is rich in iron, copper bauxite but never been mined. Hence, Afghanistan can ask for FDI and machineries with other developed nations collaboration. India’s NMDC and steel industries are also looking for cheap ores. Also it will lead to construction of Strategic road and Pakistan cooperation. This will give employment, revenue and exporting capability in Afghanistan while healthy diplomacy and revenue to India.
  2. For long time since cold war, Afghanistan is dependent on funds by other nations; even after 2002 it has faced double digit growth every year because of International Peace Assistance Force (ISAF) existence and fund. But now such funds are drying up, so, security and development both must be priority. This can be done through curbing corruption in govt, allowing investments in Hydrocarbon exploration, gas pipelines setup under TAPI and APC (Afghanistan-Pakistan-China) project. This will led to security with cooperation with co-signing nations also. India can also become beneficiary by promoting and investing in such schemes.
  3. Afghanistan is perfectly situated in regions of Central Asia, South Asia and the East west corridor. India can utilize this for reaching Europe through land route, counter balance China’s dominance in Pakistan and accessing cheap labour and minerals of Afghanistan.
  4. India govt can also help Afghanistan to curb al-Qaeda, LeT and other terrorists outfit by providing technical assistance and training. As India’s is largest provider of troops for UN PKF so, India can help in stabilising Afghanistan as well as making her border safe, both at same time.
Hence, India can play vital role in economic resurrection of Afghanistan while getting benefitted at the same time.
Related Questions:
  • “India should move beyond the binary of economic cooperation and military engagement and evolve a comprehensive policy which involves all dimensions of power in Afghanistan.”  Comment. (200 Words)



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