Tuesday, 8 October 2013

UPSC (M) Paper iii (GS-II) - India And its Neighborhood : India And Afghanistan Relation

India’s highest priority has always been her neighbors as part of its foreign policy which seeks to have a peaceful periphery to achieve multi-glorious development goals. Moreover India also believes that a stable and prosperous south Asia will only contribute to India’s prosperity and it has got a big obligation to fulfill as it shares border with many south Asian nations. India has developed a policy of asymmetric engagement to strengthen bridges of friendship and create new opportunities for the growth, security and well being of her neighbors both bilaterally and through the SAARC mechanism. India is committed to fostering the sense of a south Asian identity through the SAARC process, enhancing mutual confidence in multiple confidences in multiple areas and in trying to leverage India’s rapid economic growth into win-win arrangements with her neighbors. India remains conscious of this vision of south Asian integration in bilateral engagements with her neighbors as well.                                                                                

India – Afghanistan

India and Afghanistan have established a strategic partnership. India’s historical and civilizational relationship with Afghanistan is being further strengthened by India’s active engagement in the development and reconstruction process of Afghanistan. India And its Neighborhood : India And Afghanistan Relation fghanistan joined the SAARC community in 2007 and India stands committed to help Afghanistan integrate into the regional economy of south Asia. Both these communities believe that democracy and development are the key instruments to become a source of regional stability.

  • India has offered extensive development assistance program, making India the 5th largest bilateral donor in Afghanistan after the US, the UK, Japan and Germany.
  • There also exists a high level political engagement with Afghanistan which is reflected in the large number of bilateral high level visits.
  • India sought to provide a forum for potential investors from the region and beyond to meet and explore possible cross country company partnerships on investments, in and around Afghanistan, in various sectors where Afghanistan holds the promise of significant potential, opportunity and need as a means of bringing stability and development to Afghanistan through economic means.
  • India has played an active role in the development of Afghanistan based on the understanding that social and economic development in Afghanistan is crucial to regional stability. The principal objective of India’s development partnership is to assist in building indigenous afghan capacity and institutions and to ensure that development touches all the regions of Afghanistan and encompasses all the sectors of development.
  • All the projects are undertaken in partnership with the afghan government, in consonance with Afghanistan national development strategy. India’s program covers four broad areas – infrastructure projects, humanitarian assistance, small and community based development projects and education and capacity development.
  • The 218 km road project from Zaranj to Delaram in south western Afghanistan to facilitate movement of goods and services to the Iranian border and onward to the Chahbahar port was inaugurated by the afghan president and Indian external affairs minister.
  • India constructed the 202 kms road along DC transmission line from pul-e-khumri to Kabul and a Kv substation at Chimtala, bringing Uzbek electricity and lighting up the city of Kabul throughout the year. This project was completed in collaboration with the afghan government, ADB and the World Bank, with the inputs from USAID and international energy firms and is an outstanding example of regional and international cooperation in Afghanistan.
  • The other two major infrastructure projects, the construction of the afghan parliament in Kabul and the construction of Salma dam power project in Herat province.
  • Under humanitarian assistance, India supplies 100gms of fortified biscuits everyday to each of the nearly two million school children in 33 of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan under a school feeding program administers through the world food program.
  • India announced the gift of 2, 50,000 metric tons of wheat to assist Afghanistan tide over its food shortage.
  • The Indian missions in the five major cities are providing free medical consultations and medicine to over 30,000 Afghanis every month.
  • An innovative scheme focusing on small and community based development projects with a short gestation period and having a direct impact on community life was unveiled. So far 101 such projects have been initiated.
  • In education and institution development, India is providing university scholarships, sponsored by the ICCR for under graduate and post graduate studies for Afghan students in India.
  • More than 20 Indian civil servants served as coaches and mentors under capacity for afghan public administration program supported by UNDP and the governments of Afghanistan and India.
  • CII built India-Afghanistan vocational training center for training afghan youth.
  • India NGO, SEWA built a women’s vocational training center in Bagh-e-Zanana in Kabul to train Afghan women.
  • India has assisted in expansion of Afghan National TV network.
  • India has also encouraged Afghanistan efforts at capitalizing on its unique geographical location at the heart of the Asian continent by supporting regional initiatives like the Istanbul process and RECCA that seek to assist in Afghanistan’s development through cooperation in a various sectors of economy.
  • Subsequently, India has managed to effectively claw its way back into Afghanistan’s power equations, at least for the near future:
  • India-educated Hamid Karzai becoming its first president and re elected twice, Afghan foreign ministers frequently making visits to Indian, New Delhi being chosen as a destination over looking other 6 geographical neighbors and Manmohan singh visit to Afghanistan is first of its kind in past 3 decades.

Today, India is recognized as a key regional player in efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and for the first time there is a broad congruity of Indian and US interests in Afghanistan: both wish to see a stable, democratic and multi-ethnic political solution take root in the country.

Indian efforts in Afghanistan are underpinned by the following three key objectives:

  •  Negating influence of ISI backed Taliban.
  •  Drug trafficking
  •  Securing Afghanistan as a trade and energy corridor to Central Asia. 

1. Negating influence of ISI backed Taliban: India has always had a threat from North West frontier i.e. Afghanistan which always serving as a launch pad for invasions into the plains of northern India and Kashmir. Mujahedeen at the throne, waging a holy war in the name of Jihad, ISI backed Taliban getting weapons from USA started waging a Jihad in Kashmir. This served a severe threat to India. The aftermath of 2001 and Karzai at the helm was a sigh of relief for India. Since then it has been extending political, diplomatic and extensive humanitarian support to the Karzai Government from 2002.

2. Drug trafficking: India has the largest opiate-using population in the sub-region (the five Central Asian republics, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India), accounting for an astounding 3.2m. users out of a total of 5m. users estimated for the entire sub-region. India has also reported the largest cannabis seizures made in Asia, at 108m. tonnes, the bulk of which originated in Afghanistan. Afghanistan’s opium make its way to the Indian market through the Indo–Pakistani border in the Punjab. Opium addiction has grown at an alarming rate, particularly amongst the youth in the border villages, inflicting tremendous damage on the country’s social fabric. The other disconcerting trend for India has been the strengthening linkages between drugs trafficking and the Taliban insurgency, which has gained tremendous momentum over the last four years. The money generated from drugs-trafficking is being used to fund the supply of sophisticated arms and to win over foot soldiers for the insurgency by paying them a monthly salary. The growing menace of drugs-trafficking poses serious challenges to human security as well as the national security of India.

3. Securing Afghanistan as a trade and energy corridor to Central Asia: A stable Afghanistan has the potential to serve as a key land bridge to facilitate India’s energy and commercial interests in hydrocarbon-rich Central Asia, thus facilitating the diversification of oil and gas supplies and reducing India’s excessive dependence on supplies from the Middle East. With this objective of enhancing India’s energy security, vital to sustain the momentum of its economic growth, India joined the ambitious $7,500m TAPI (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India) pipeline initiative, which was envisaged to carry 30,000m cu feet of gas from the Daulatabad field in Turkmenistan via Afghanistan and Pakistan, into India .Afghanistan also has considerable amounts of untapped reserves of oil and natural gas, a vast array of industrial metals such as copper, gold, iron, cobalt and lithium. if exploited in the right way, it would transform Afghanistan's economy. In light of Pakistan’s refusal to grant trade transit rights, India has worked towards developing an alternative trade corridor going down to Chabahar, christened as the International North South Trade Corridor (INSTC), India hopes to achieve two objectives. First, provide land-locked Afghanistan with shorter and alternative access to the sea, thereby reducing its dependency on Pakistan; and second, in light of Pakistan’s refusal to grant trade transit rights over land, it envisages by-passing Pakistan and instead shipping its goods from Mumbai port to Chabahar in Iran and then onwards by the Zaranj–Delaram road into Afghanistan and by rail into Central Asia. The decision to admit Afghanistan as a full member of the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) at its 14th summit in New Delhi in April 2007 was as much strategic as it was commercial. On the commercial front, with the passage in 2006 of the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), which eases tariff barriers, sub continental trade is expected to benefit.

The key challenges facing Indian policy in Afghanistan can broadly be classified under two fronts: security and diplomacy.

1. Security: India has always been a target by ISI backed Taliban. Not only Indians in India, but Indians in Afghanistan were targeted numerous times and many Indians lost their lives in this. Pakistan’s main aim is to wipe off Indian leverage in Afghanistan. But if this is achieved then India shall suffer a lot.

2. Diplomacy: On the diplomatic plane, the challenges before India are threefold: encourage working towards evolving a multi-ethnic political solution to the Afghanistan, Understanding Taliban insurgency, India has to make creative moves in Afghanistan and India also needs to effectively leverage its soft power prowess in Afghanistan and reinforce it with a more active role in the country’s military sector.

Few important points to consider:

1. The first significance challenge of India – Afghanistan relations came in the wake of the soviet military intervention in Afghanistan in December, 1979. India’s response to the soviet intervention in Afghanistan was essentially conditioned by the following four factors:

a. Washington aid, supply of arms and fighter aircrafts to Pakistan.
b. Washington’s rapprochement with Beijing in which Pakistan had a key role to play.
c. A US naval build up in the Indian Ocean region
d. A fear of mujahideen victory giving Pakistan clears strategic leverage in Afghanistan.

In such complex realities, India did not want to jeopardize its partnership with USSR, because USSR helped India in issues of Kashmir and the Bangladesh war of 19771, when received a stiff opposition from USA and People’s Republic of China. USSR has given aid to India in defense equipment and space technology. So it chose to abstain UN resolutions calling for soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. India was the only nation outside the Warsaw pact that supported Kremlin regime in Kabul, there by undermining its own moral stature and NAM policy. However, within months of Soviet collapse, it was replaced by the fragile coalition of mujahedeen forces with Badrudin Rabbani at helm. Even though factionsim was rampant in Rabbani’s regime and understanding Rabbani’s own islamist Jamat-e-Islamic background, India cast its lot with Rabbani Regime. India suffered its strategic setback in Afghanistan, when Pakistan backed Taliban came into fore. It was now clear indicator that Afghanistan shall soon turn center for narcotic drugs and terrorism. So India started limiting assistance to Afghanistan. As the international community desperately attempts to find a way to extricate itself from the Afghan quagmire, India may increasingly find itself hemmed in by the powers that be.

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