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Development of Indo-Afghan Relations in Political Economic and Social Aspects Post 9/11 Scenario; Implication for Pakistan
Indo-Afghan relations are developing with accelerated pace post 9/11. Indian increasing involvement in Afghanistan is a matter of grave concern for Pakistan. Indian investment in Afghanistan aims; to minimize Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan, to create a soft image of India in Afghanistan and to access Central Asian Republic’s markets through Afghanistan. India is so far being successful in all of its objectives. India is investing in political, economic and social sectors in Afghanistan and successful in creating a soft image of Indians in Afghans heart. Keeping in view this scenario, study of this situation was a good case. India, Pakistan and Afghanistan all three have many observations regarding each other and none of them accept it. Due to the physical presence of United States in Afghanistan for more than a decade, peace in the area is still a dream come true. Therefore, it was an interesting study to understand the dynamics of Indo-Afghan relations and its implications for Pakistan. Neo realism theory is applied in this study.
Afghanistan, Economic, India, Investment, Pakistan, Political, Social
Historically, India and Afghanistan enjoyed close historical and cultural relations since time immemorial. Indian Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, while receiving Afghan Prime Minister Daud, on his visit to New Delhi in 1959, reportedly said regardingAfghanistan;
The partition of India separated direct boundaries and direct contact between the two countries. But that made little difference to our age long community of interests and our old friendship survived. Ever since India’s independence, we have grown closer to each other, for a variety of reasons. The long memory of our past was there, and the moment it was possible to renew them, we renewed them, and then it comesto the mutual interest, which is a powerful factor (Select Documents on India's Foreign Policy and Relations, 1947-1972, 1985, p.5)
After the incident of 9/11, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) launched air strikes against the Taliban, ruler of Afghanistan. Taliban resistance did not last longer and soon they were defeated. Professor Burhan-ud-din Rabbani handed over the power to the new interim government of Hamid Karzai on 22nd December 2001, soon after the fall of Taliban.
The new cabinet was predominantly non-Pashtun and pro-Northern Alliance. India had developed close and cordial relations with Northern Alliance during the rule of Taliban. Therefore, the change in the power scenario in Kabul was agreeable for them. At that occasion, the foreign minister of India, Mr. Jaswant Singh visited Kabul and Indian Embassy was re-opened in Kabul (Trivedi, 2008, p. 86). Moreover, India also re-opened its consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad and established two new consulates in Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat (Pant, 2012, p. 36). India also offered its support to the newly established interim government (Lasiram, 2011, p. 776).
After sworn in for the office of President, Hamid Karzai visited India from 26th to 27th February 2002 (Mahindra, 2005, p. 242). Indian Prime Minister Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee said that he had assured Afghanistan that India was committed to provide humanitarian relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation assistance to the Afghan people. (The Tribune Chandigarh, 2002).
After the 9/11 incident, Indians focused more on development projects and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. The unusual friendly ties resulted in almost fourteen visits of Afghan President to Delhi during his tenure as President of Afghanistan (Chand, 2013). On the other hand, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Afghanistan twice during his tenure. These visits were not just sight-seeing tours but had clear political significance. Therefore, it is clear that Indian interests in Afghanistan are driven by its domestic, regional and international interests. These can be divided into major categories of political, economic and social interests. It is appropriate to discuss the Indian efforts so far in Afghanistan in detail under these categories;
Afghanistan never had a central government capable of controlling entire country until Ahmad Shah Abdali who unified Afghanistan in 1747. Since then, the monarchy of the family of Durranis-Pushtoon was established. It is concluded after the study of onward 1988 Afghan history that there was no central government in Afghanistan which would have been acceptable for all segment of society. After 9/11, an International Conference on Afghanistan was held in Bon, Germany in 2001, with the help of United Nation Organization to decide a plan for governing Afghanistan. In 2004, a Loya Jirga was convened in Kabul which approved Presidential system with bi-cameral legislature for Afghanistan (Afghanistan Online. 2015).
India had taken certain steps in order to seek political influence in Afghanistan. These steps included following measures.
Hamid Karzai: Pro Indian Leader
Soon after ISAF forces took over Kabul, the Bon conference selected Hamid Karzai as interim Afghan President. Hamid Karzai was tilted towards India since very beginning. He was able to convince India about his loyalty to get financial assistance and signed bi-lateral agreements in various fields (Mahindra, 2005, p. 242) during his regimes. It is quite rare to see a head of state visit a foreign country even twice a year but former Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited India fourteen times during his tenure from 2002 to 2014 (Hamid Karzai’s visit, 2015) which is quite unusual. Mr. Karzai always issued controversial statements against Pakistan and favored India. Rejecting warnings by his one-time counterpart General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Karzai reiterated Afghanistan would not allow itself to become the battleground in a proxy war between India and Pakistan after the imminent departure of US-led troops.
Afghanistan will not allow proxy war between India and Pakistan on its soil – and I’m sure India won’t do that,” Karzai said firmly, adding, “India will be there to educate our children, build dams, not to wage a proxy war against Pakistan – so I’ll give a reassurance to Musharraf that he did not worry. (Hamid Karzai’s visit, 2015)
Thanking India for participating in ‘every step’ of rebuilding Afghanistan as it suffered from invasions, foreign interferences and extremism, Karzai said, “a generation of forward-looking young Afghans have emerged and thanks a great deal to India having helped us in this regard” (The Express Tribune, 2014).
Karzai claimed that Pakistani leaders had demanded on a number of occasions that Kabul recognized the Durand Line, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. “I had told Pakistan that I cannot recognize the Durand Line. The Afghan nation also does not recognize it,” Karzai told the US-funded Radio Azadi in Kabul (The Express Tribune, 20 November, 2014). Moreover, the former Afghan leader alleged that the suicide bombers had been coming to Afghanistan from Pakistan during his tenure. (Pattanaik.2011. p. 28).
Indians had started investment on Afghanistan since very beginning. In 1992, the Northern Alliance (NA) was established in opposition of the communist government by President Najib Ullah. Initially the group consisted of General Abdul Rashid Dostum, Ahmad Shah Mas'ud, head of the Jamiat-e-Islami Party; and Hizb-e-Wahdat(Afghanistan backround… 1999). Later on, other small parties joined/ left the alliance. When the Pashtun-dominated faction Taliban, gained more power and seized control of more territory, the NA formed the shape of opposition which resisted Taliban's use of indiscriminate violence and repression (Country Profile: Afghanistan, 1999).
On August 8, 1998, the Taliban militia stormed into Mazar-e-Sharif, the last city NA held, and took control of government buildings, the central mosque, and major road junctions (Sakkar, 2009). During this whole period of struggle, India was the major supporter of NA which was a combination of ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks, because of its hostility to Pakistani supported mujahedeen (Ganguly, Howenstein, 2009, p. 127). India provided the NA full support with weapons, materials, maintenance facilities, defense advisers and a field hospital in Tajikistan for fighters (Fair, 2011, p. 184).
When Professor Burhan-ud-Din Rabbani was killed in September 2011, it was condemned by India, through a statement that,
"Tragically, the forces of terror and hatred have silenced yet another powerful voice of reason and peace in Afghanistan. We unreservedly condemn this act of great brutality," and assured the support of the people and government of India in Afghanistan's "quest for peace and efforts to strengthen the roots of democracy (Outlook India, 2014)"
India promised to stand by the people of Afghanistan for preparing to assume the responsibility for their governance and security after the withdrawal of international forces in 2014 (Mohan, 2011).
India’s Support to Minus Taliban Formula
Whenever any kind of reconciliation plans were discussed regarding Afghanistan, India always insisted on minus Taliban formula. Taliban are always assumed as Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) brain child. Therefore¸ India was unwilling to support them. Moreover, India fears that any re-conciliation plan for inclusion of Taliban in Afghan government would ultimately provide safe haven against India and its interests within Afghanistan (Hanauer & Chalk, 2012, p. 15). Analyzing, this policy of India, a think tank wrote, “India’s security interests primarily revolve around denying any political space to the ISI backed Taliban and other such fundamentalist groups”.
India is not successful so far in blocking Taliban from playing a role in Kabul that’s why they are changing their thinking by contacting other groups for influence in future chemistry of government. The multinationals talks which were held in 201l and other such initiatives at international level had compelled India to revise its policies.
Showcasing Physical Appearance
India has always showcased its presence in Afghanistan in larger than life style. Construction of Afghan parliament building is its prime example as a reformed style of government had been adopted in the country after 9/11; a permanent building was required to hold the sessions of Parliament of Afghanistan. India took initiative for the construction of Afghan parliament building on the 84 acre plot, in the outskirt of Kabul in 2009 (Outlook India, 2014). The building has modern and Mughal influence on its architecture. The estimated cost in Indian Rupees is 710 Crore (Outlook India, 2014). Almost 30% workers were Indians. All the construction material and furniture was imported from India. An Indian official said that building would be a gift to the people of Afghanistan aspiring to move towards a peaceful democracy (Outlook India, 2014).
Frequent Visits of India by Afghan Officials
Despite of frequent visits by President Hamid Karzai, government delegates of different levels frequently visited Afghanistan and India respectively. The regular features of these visits were meetings, signing of Memorandum of Understanding’s and sightseeing tours. There has been significant political engagement between India and Afghanistan, with a large number of high-level bilateral visits between the two countries in the last few years. In the near past, the Prime Minister, minister of external affairs, foreign minister, national security advisor, minister for steel and minster of law and justice, amongst others, all visited Afghanistan (Price, 2013).
Regional co-operation associations are playing pivotal role in the building friendly ties between the countries of the region. South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation” (SAARC), one of the major regional associations, came into being in 1986 on the suggestion of Bangladesh’s President, Zia-ur-Rehman. Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives are its founding members. Major Powers like USA and China have observer status in the SAARC. In 2005, India activated for the membership of Afghanistan in SAARC. In 2007, Afghanistan finally became the eighth member of SAARC.
After the inclusion of Afghanistan as the latest member of the SAARC at the 14th SAARC Summit in New Delhi in 2007, SAARC’s western boundaries are expanded up to Iran and Central Asia. Not only has this, but Afghanistan once again became the cross-roads between Central and South Asia, as it links the regional countries together in a trade, transportation and energy hub. This extended region has the world’s largest and most rapidly expanding markets. Indian perception of Afghanistan role in SAARC is that “together, India and Afghanistan intend to work with neighbors to dismantle trade and transit barriers for free movement of goods, investments, and people and unfettered and constructive regional relationships” (India and Afghanistan; a Development Partnership, 2015).
As mentioned earlier, India is investing heavily in Afghanistan. So far following economic development activities are funded/ initiated by Indians for Afghans.
Transit Trade through Chahbahar Seaport
Afghanistan is a land locked country and using Arabian Sea route for sea trade since long. After the inception of Pakistan, both the governments made an agreement of Transit trade. Through this agreement, Afghanistan was facilitated by allowing the use of Karachi sea port for the import of different goods from all over the world. Although, smuggling, illegal purchases and re-selling of these duty free items in Pakistani markets literally damaged the local economy, but the government of Pakistan had not withdrawn that facility.
Through this route link, Afghan economy became more dependent on Pakistan’s investors and businessmen. Pakistan, on the other hand, didn’t let India to export its goods via land route of Pakistan to Afghanistan. In this way, not only Afghanistan but the huge market of Central Asian States is not approachable for Indian goods. Therefore India, with the help of the government of Iran planned to develop Iranian sea port of Chahbahar and link it with Afghanistan by road. The contract for the building of 218 km highway was awarded to Indian Army’s Border Road Organization (BRO), a road construction body linked to Indian Army (Facts about India. 2015). It built a road in the remote Afghan province of Nimroz in 2009 which connected Zaranj (border town with Iran) and Delaram, situated on Garland highway. It linked the Afghan major cities like Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e Sharif and Kundoz. The road linked Afghanistan to Iranian sea port of Chahbahar. Therefore, it provided the linkage of major Afghan cities with Iranian sea port.
During his visit to Afghanistan, in a joint statement, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that the successful completion of this highway was a “major test of our joint resolve” (Basar, 2012, p. 2). Moreover, he said that, “the road has brought our two people close together” (Basar, 2012, p.3).
As a part of its financial assistance programme for reconstruction and development in Afghanistan, the Indian government invested $300 million in the Salma Dam project, which was initiated in 2006.Salma Dam was originally constructed in 1976 on the Harirod river basin in the province of Herat but was damaged early during the Civil war in Afghanistan. It is a hydroelectric and irrigation project being constructed on Hari Rud River in Chiste Sharif district of the province Herat with objectives of 42 MW power generations and improvement of irrigation facilities in 80,000 hectares of land (Pajhwok, 2015). Salma Dam Project is a glacier and run off the river scheme in West Afghanistan in Western Himalayas, a 107m high earth and rock fill dam located 176 km upstream of Province of Herat on river Harirud (NBMCW, 2011).Once the dam is operational, it is expected to provide 75,000 acres of land in Herat with irrigation and is likely to produce 45 MW of electricity (News, 2013).
Development of Mining Sector
India has also taken an active role in developing Afghanistan’s mining sector, viewed by many politicians as the key to Afghanistan’s economic survival. A consortium of Indian state-owned and private companies won rights to begin excavations the Hajigak iron-ore mines in Bamiyan, northwest of Kabul. Indian firms also bid on mining rights on Afghan copper and gold mines (Peter, 2012). So far, China is the only other nation that has won mining contracts in Afghanistan.
India is playing a key role in developing mining sector in Afghanistan. So far, the highest single successful activity of India in Afghanistan is the acceptance of a tender by a consortium of seven Indian public and private sector companies to develop the Hajigak iron ore mines. The planned investment is 66 billion. The consortium is led by Indian State owned company State Authority of India Limited (SAIL).
It is estimated that it holds almost two billion tons of iron ore deposits. The consortium has been committed in the agreement with Afghan Government that it build the mines, a six million ton steel unit and an 800 MW power station near the mining site. Two routes are specified for transferring finished steel and iron Ore to India; one from Iran and other from Pakistan (Ashraf, 2007). The plan is to build a rail track along with Zaranj- Delaram Highway. However, the work is going on at a slow pace due to security situation in Afghanistan. (Price, 2013).
Water represents the very essence of life. Many developing countries are already struggling to cope with chronic water shortages. Throughout history; water has also been a source of dispute and even conflict between users at both local and larger scales. As water becomes ever scarcer relative to demand, there are emerging fears of Tran’s boundary waters becoming a source of conflict. Same is the case in India and Pakistan. India has frequently used water as an instrument to destroy Pakistan’s economy.
Likewise from Afghanistan, river Kabul flows towards Pakistan. Valleys of Peshawar and Nowshera are fertile due to its water. But India has planned to assist the construction of almost 12 hydropower projects on river Kabul. This step will have some serious implications for Pakistan’s agrarian base economy. Afghan government is not allowing India to do so.
Electrification of Kabul
The electric supply system in Afghanistan was badly damaged during three decades of Afghan war. Even in the capital city, Kabul, the four million residents were getting only three hours of power supply every alternative day. Therefore, in order to meet the requirement, an electric supply agreement was signed between Afghanistan and Uzbekistan. A 462 km line was proposed to be constructed from the Uzbek border to Kabul. The total estimated cost in the project was US$ 250 million (Asian Development Bank, 2015). This 150 megawatt project was partially funded by Asian Development Bank (Basar, 2012). The last 202 km of power line from Pul-e- Khumri to Kabul along with a substation were constructed by the India’s Power Grid Corporation. The contract between the ministry of external affairs and government of India were signed on 12 August, 2005 (Times, 2010). Along with the construction of power supply line, a substation, a colony for employees and training of Afghan electricity department personals were parts of the deal (Basar, 2012, p.3).
Provision of Technical Assistance to Afghans
India has also invested in infrastructure and provided technical assistance to Afghanistan. Indians have so far provided 40 buses and 200 minibuses to Afghans for mass transport system (Ministry of External Affairs I, 2015, p. 28 ). About 105 utility vehicles are also gifted to municipalities which include garbage dumpers and water tankers. The Afghan National Army was facilitated by providing 300 military transport vehicles. Afghan International Airline Arianna was provided three Airbus air crafts along with spare parts and technical training facilities (Ministry of External Affairs I, 2015, p. 29).
Role of Private Sector Entrepreneurs
In addition to the state owned corporations and companies, many private sector entrepreneurs are entering in the Afghan markets. Their areas of focus include agriculture, manufacturing, telecommunications and mining sector (Hanauer & Chalk, 2012, p. 17). They are investing or ready to invest huge sum of money as noted from the interest shown by not less than 14 Indian companies participation in a bid for mining in an iron ore project in Bamiyan province by costing almost $6 billion (Khan, 2011). At the government level, many times, high level officials of Afghan government invited Indian investment. During SAARC summit 2011 held in Maldives, Afghanistan requested Indian government for more investment in their country.
Apart from building roads and dams, India has declared initiating of Small Development Projects (SDP) during the visit of Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh in August 28, 2005. The Indian Prime Minister announced that India would adopt 100 villages in Afghanistan in order to promote integrated rural development by introducing solar electrification and rain water harvesting technologies (Ministry of External Affairs G. o., 2005). Almost 84 small projects in 19 Afghan provinces are in process and are at different stages of completion (Debata, 2012, p. 804).
The Preferential Trade Agreement
The Preferential Trade Agreement between India and Afghanistan was signed on 6th March 2003 (Asian Development Bank, 2015). According to the said agreement, both countries desired to promote mutually beneficial trade as they were convinced that there was the need to establish and promote free trade. The objectives of this agreement were to promote bi-lateral relations, to provide fair conditions of competition for trade and to remove barriers to trade. The list of items where preferential tariff was granted by the government of Afghanistan included black tea, homeopathic medicine, other medicines, sugar refined and cement. The Most Favored Nation (MFN) duty was negligible or exempted. The list for Indian Government was a long list of thirty items. It includes many kinds of fresh /dry fruits, seeds, medicinal value plants for pharmacy and precious gem stones (worked/unworked) like ruby, emerald and lapis. The duty was around 30% while preference given was 50% (Asian Development Bank, 2015). Moreover, India has set up a common facility center and tool room at Pul-e-Churki in Afghanistan. (Ministry of External Affairs I. 2015 ).
It’s expected projects in Afghanistan include setting up Iron ore mines along with a 6 MTPA steel plant by SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited) and 800 MW power plants. India is planning to build a rail link from Hajigak, a mineral rich area in Bamiyan province of Afghanistan, to Iranian sea port of Chahbahar through Zaranj (Jacob & Chatterji, 2011) (a road has been already constructed on this route by India). India is also negotiating with Iran on a proposed 600 km. long road which will follow rail link from Iranian sea port of Chahbahar to Iranian city of Zahidan, adjacent to the south western border of Afghanistan (Malhotra, 2012).
Co-operation in Social Sector
Not only in political and economic sectors but in social sector also, India is enhancing its presence in Afghanistan. India has planned to increase capacity building of the Afghan government by broadening its engagement in education and health sectors in Afghanistan.
Co-operation in Health Sector
According to the Indians, the main aspect of India’s reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan includes the humanitarian assistance (Fair, 2011. p. 179) as India has played a significant role in developing the health sector in Afghanistan. In health sector, Indians are helping Afghans in many ways. They are as follows;
Indian Medical Teams
India sends teams of doctors and Para-medics to Afghanistan in order to provide basic health facility & first aid to the war torn nation of Afghanistan. Moreover, these doctors opened camps for fixing artificial limbs of those wounded in war in different parts of the country (Fair, 2011. p. 187). In order to provide consultation and free medicines to the needy ones, five Indian Medical Missions (IMMS) are permanently working in Herat, Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad (Ministry of External Affairs I. 2015 ). Almost 30,000 Afghans are treated through these IMMS every month (Lashiram, 2011, p. 77).
Many hospitals in Afghanistan are upgraded. The largest pediatric hospital Indira Gandhi Institute for Children Health (IGICH) Kabul was also upgraded with the help of Indian government. It was founded in 1966 with Indian Government’s assistance and named after then Indian Prime Minister Indra Gandhi. Now, the World Bank funds routine maintenance and provide medicines (Mukhtar, 2015). Group of doctors from IGICH was inducted to the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for further training.
Basic Health Units
Basic Health Unit/clinics were constructed in the border provinces of Badakshan, Nuristan, Paktia, Paktika, Badakshan, Balkh, Khost, Kunhar, Nimroz, Nangarhar and Kandahar (MEA, 2015). India also gifted ten ambulances to the regional hospitals in 2008. They are functioning in Kabul and regional hospitals of Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif (MEA, 2015).
Help in Education Sector
India is helping Afghanistan in education sector in following ways;
Providing Scholarship and Assistance
India is helping Afghans in their educational development by providing them scholarships for educational & Vocational training since 2001. For this purpose a memoranda of understanding (MOU) was signed in 2006 (MEA, 2015). This memorandum promises close contacts between the educational institutes of both the countries in the field of research, exchange of research material, publications, educational literature, teaching aids, teachers, school etc. Various scholarships to those Afghan nationals are offered who are interested to study in Indian Universities for short courses as well as higher studies.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) under a special scholarship scheme has offered almost 500 scholarships to Afghan students per year. A student can avail this scholarship only after qualifying a country wide selection test. There are 6 seats per region (MEA, 2015. p.16). India had offered 1000 scholarships per year to Afghan students for studying in Indian institutes and universities and almost 5000 students were studying in India.
Around 300 scholarships are also granted to Afghan students for education of agriculture and its related fields in Indian Universities at under graduate, graduate, post graduate and PhD Level (Lasiram, 2011, p. 776). US Aid is providing up to $13million to facilitate exchange programs and scholarships for Afghanistan’s agricultural development to India (Price, 2013).
Assistance to World Food Programme
In June 2002, World Food Programme (WFP) was facing a serious resource shortfall and was looking for donors to fund the new school feeding operation in Afghanistan. India came forward to support the ‘Back to School’ campaign of Afghanistan and under a ‘School Feeding Programme’ administered through the WFP, India had supplied 100 grams of fortified, high-protein biscuits to nearly two million school children every day (Laishram, 2011, p. 776).
2015, p.13).The famous Habibia School in Kabul was also reconstructed by India (MEA, 2014, p.23). The 102 year old school was re-opened after its restoration by the heads of states of both the countries during a state visit of Dr. Manmohan Singh to Afghanistan on August 28, 2005 (Center M., 2012).
Skill Building Initiative
When Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh visited Afghanistan in 2005, both states agreed to launch a ‘skill building initiative’ in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) and United Nations (UN). India-Afghanistan Vocational Training Centre was established by CII and the Afghan Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. It is providing training to Afghan youth in various fields like carpentry, masonry, welding, plumbing and tailoring. It is self-sustainable institution as its trained people get employment in the institute as trainers.
Another programme for technical & professional training is ‘Indian Technical and Co-operation programme’. Under this program, India is offering 500 annual short term programs to Afghan nationals in any Indian Technical & Professional Institution of their own choice.
Some of the smaller projects being undertaken by India include;
a) Funding for the Afghan Ministry of Health to build and maintain medical clinics, throughout Afghanistan,
b) The construction of cold storage food warehouses in Kandahar,
c) Establishing an agricultural university and a mining school,
d) About 1,300 annual college scholarships and training grants for civil servants (a further 200 scholarships for agricultural degrees were provided from 2010),
e) Deputing 20 Indian technical advisors in Afghan ministries under a trilateral agreement with the UNDP, and
f) Programs for capacity building for Afghan Ministers (Price, 2013).
Cultural Influence and Co-operation
For most part of Indian Sub-Continent history, Afghanistan was politically a part of Indo-Pak sub-continent. Although it was mainly under Muslim influence, however, now India claims a common tradition of culture & heritage and age old cultural ties with Afghanistan. Following are the different aspects of their mutual co-operation;
The Indian films and their actors are very popular in Afghanistan (Price, 2013). The Dari and Pashto are the main languages of Afghanistan but Kabul’s cinemas always display Indian movies by dubbing them into Dari or Pashto. Therefore, before the arrival of Taliban, Kabul was a big market for Indian cinema. Indian film industry was aware of its importance in Afghanistan. That’s why many popular films of India which are based on Afghanistan, created special place in the hearts of Afghans. Super hit movie of seasoned Indian actor Amitabh Buchan’s “Badshah” in 80’s is an example.
Cultural troupes from both the countries had frequently visited each other’s countries since long. But, during Taliban era, every activity relevant to culture ended. During Karzai period, Nauroz festival (New Year celebration) was started at Mazare-Sharif, Afghanistan (Times of India; 2015). In this festival, Indian music groups participated regularly. On the other hand, Afghan musical groups/bands singers and musicians frequently showed their talents in Indian festivals. Even one of the prominent and popular Afghan musical bands “Talaash” performed at the SAARC band festival on 20th Feb 2009 in New Delhi (MEA. 2015).
Indian Council for Cultural relations
In 2007, with the support of Indian Council for Cultural relations, an Indian Cultural Centre was set up at the embassy of India in Kabul in 2007 (Debata, 2011. p. 805). The “India Afghanistan Foundation” was also set up by India in 2008. Its scope of activities included educational, cultural, scientific and technical cooperation. The foundation arranges seminars and conferences and run programs for exchange of historians and scholars. It also translates books in local Afghan languages i.e. Pashto and Dari. It has revived a quarterly literary magazine “Hind” (MEA, 2015, p.16).
Restoration of Transmission Lines
Due to very poor law and order situation in the country, most of the transmission networks had been damaged badly. During the state visit of President Hamid Karzai to India, on 24 February, 2005, an MOU was signed in the field of media and information. The government of India started a project to uplink RTA from Kabul and downlink in all 34 provinces of Afghanistan (MEA, 2015, p. 16). For transmitting the signals of radio and TV to all 34 provinces of Afghanistan, an Indian Satellite INSAT3A was used (MEA, 2015, p. 26). The restoration of damaged telecommunication networks in 11 provinces was also carried by India. TV hardware restoration was planned and carried out in Jalalabad and Nangharhar (MEA, 2015, p. 176). Beside this, India has set up a TV studio, TV transmitter, 5 TV Relay Centre and a Mobile TV Satellite uplink (MEA, 2015, p. 16).
The state owned Afghan Radio and Television Afghanistan (RTA) has planned to give coverage to all the Afghan historical monuments situated in India. The Radio and TV Afghanistan is also exchanging programmers and media persons with all Indian Radio Akashwani & Doordurshan, the state owned TV (MEA, 2015, p. 26).
There is a huge demand of musical instruments in Afghanistan. Therefore, India has supplied musical instruments to various organizations including Universities, music academies, Afghan National Army Band & Radio and TV Afghanistan (MEA. 2015, p. 4).
Causes of Mutual Co-operation
India is developing relations with Afghanistan at unprecedented level. Its reason could be grouped into two levels, i.e. external and internal.
Afghanistan has been a battle ground for regional and external powers for last four decades. Nobody is there to help Afghans in peace keeping but every country has its own interest which they are eager to achieve. There is no free lunch in the world. India is promoting its involvement, support and help in almost every field of life. Many external factors are behind it. Now the balance of power in the world is redefined. United States of America is not the only power. China is slowly and silently developing itself and is an emerging super power. It is a potential threat for USA’s supremacy and hegemony. Therefore USA is looking for new partners in the region who can counter the Chinese interests in the region. India is the best available choice for USA. Therefore India is playing the role which is larger than life. Hamid Karzai was the choice of Americans and he was favoring Indians openly. India’s aid and other activities are visible in every field. Other countries are also present in Afghanistan but India is in every field. The current ruler of Afghanistan is United States of America. To counter Chinese-Pakistan nexus in the region India is granted free hand. That’s why it is visible everywhere.
Even it is said that India and Pakistan are the proxies of USA and China in the region. Although both denied this but factual position is that they are playing the role of safeguards of their interests in the region.
Many internal factors are also behind this level of investment of India in Afghanistan. They are as follows;
a. Ancient Indian politician, Kautiyla’s philosophy has described the theory of Raj Mandala, that is, enemy’s immediate enemy will be your friend (Sharma, Goria, & Mishra, 2011, p. 198). India is following this theory in letter and spirit since its inception. India signed various agreements and protocols with pro-Soviet regimes in Afghanistan which aimed to co-operate and enhance Indian influence in the region. Relations between India and Afghanistan deteriorated after the Taliban came into power (Dutta, 2008, p. 412). India closed her Kabul embassy in September 1996 (Trivedi, 2008, p. 80) as it didn’t recognize the government of Taliban because of its tilt towards Pakistan. After 9/11 India is again present in Afghanistan with claims of long lasting friendship and friendly ties. It develops this kind of relations always with those Afghan governments who develop hostile relations with Pakistan.
b. The government of India is run by Bharatia Junta Party (BJP). Its policy is global contrary to the major opposition party Congress which theoretically favors local or regional politics. On the other hand, BJP favors global image. Shinning India is its slogan. It is more concerned with glorified image of India. BJP government is investing that much on its image building that despite of severe human rights violation in occupied Kashmir, India presents herself as largest Democracy in the world. India is not interested to societal development of poor Muslims of Afghanistan but it is its drive of image building which compels her to spend.
c. India behaves in a hegemonic style with its neighbors as none of its neighbors are happy with India. It has major border disputes with China and Pakistan. Srilanka and Bangladesh are not happy with its interference in their internal issues. Due to India’s economic blockage, Bhutan and Nepal are living as colonies of India. Therefore India didn’t want to let Pakistan to fill the gap in Afghanistan and is visibly present there.
d. India’s track record of Muslim hostility is an open secret. However it is creating a very friendly, caring and helpful image of India among the masses. So far it is successful in creating soft image for India in the hearts of masses. Infact India is not only spending on favorites but masses are beneficiary of its projects. For instance Indra Gandhi Children hospital Kabul is the only hospital equipped with state of the art facilities in the country. Therefore India is investing on people.
Indian Investment in Afghanistan and its Implications for Pakistan
India is present in Afghanistan since the partition of India. Afghanistan was the only country which opposed Pakistan’s membership in the United Nations. On the other hand India and Afghanistan signed Friendship Treaty in 1953. Since then India enjoyed cordial relations with Afghanistan while Pakistan had to face hostile attitude of successive Afghan governments. This Indo-Afghan nexus has serious implication for Pakistan. They are as follows;
Negative Image of Pakistan
Pakistan hosted the Afghan refugees for decades. A generation has been born, educated and raised in Pakistan. But the modern propaganda tactics are so powerful that an ordinary Afghan talks about Pakistan in negative terms. After Taliban’s departure, India started massive developmental activities in Afghanistan. It is the fifth big donor in Afghanistan as spending $ 2 billion. Indian investment is like of Chinese as it is physically visible. India is investing less in Afghanistan but whatever it is investing is directly on the people. It is investing in social sector where common man can be benefited from the result. India’s investment is meager as compared to the size of its economy but it has developed soft image for Indians in following ways; by providing biscuits for school children under World Food Programme, building the largest children hospital in the country and electrifying the Kabul city after a long time. Last but not the least, they built and furnished the new Afghan parliament building. These entire projects are not huge in financial terms but their impact is long lasting on masses. Ordinary Afghans, who are raised and educated in any part of the world, consider Indians their friends.
Contrary to that, Pakistan is hosting millions of Afghans for decades on just humanitarian grounds. But the image of Pakistan is of very bad guy in the hearts of Afghan. YouTube is full of hatred videos and comments about Pakistan by Afghans.
Cross Border Terrorism
India has opened its consulate at Pak-Afghan border. They are helping non-state actors to cross Pak-Afghan border for terrorism and related activities. Pores nature of Pak-Afghan border is much dangerous factor. Infact it has a greater potential of destroying the relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It provides easy and unchecked movement of various non-state actors to and from the either side. Without controlling and thorough monitoring their movement, any operation for the eliminating terrorism at Pakistan side would not be fruitful and effective. Present border situation is rather helpful in facilitating drug trafficking and smuggling as well. All these activities have ultimately social, economic and strategic implications for Pakistan. In order to control the cross border movement, it was decided to fence the Pak-Afghan border. Though Afghanistan was opposing it but Pakistan has so far covered half of the border with trenches and barbed wires.
Terrorist Activities in KPK and Baluchistan
Pakistan is facing terrorism and its related horrible activities since long. Provinces adjacent to Afghanistan namely Khyber Pukhtoon Khawa and Baluchistan are the prime victim for last two decades. By road side bombs, landmines or suicide bombers, thousands of innocent Pakistanis were killed. Intelligence reports always pointed fingers towards Indian trained Afghan intelligence Agency NDS. In Baluchistan, separatist elements were openly supported by Indians and Afghans. These nationalist/separatist groups were supported with arms and financial aid. Even some of them took refuge in Afghanistan. These things added fuel into the fire and the relation of Pakistan and Afghanistan became bitter and hostile. Indian finances are behind these activities. These activities have serious implications for Pakistan.
Stability in the Region
Afghanistan is in the state of war for last four decades. India is present in Afghanistan while pursuing its own interests. Pakistan and Afghanistan are sharing borders. If Afghanistan let India to use its land, it is against the ethics and morality of a good neighbor. As we know that boundaries and neighbors can’t be changed. Peace and stability in the region is the prerequisite of prosperity and development of the people of this region. The prolong war like situation will hamper the progress of the region. If India is investing in Afghanistan just to counter Pakistan, then normalization of Afghan-Pakistan relations will be a dream only. Therefore, stability in the region is the core of development. Any investment in Afghanistan is of no use. Indians are also complaining that while they were building roads in Afghanistan, Taliban didn’t interfere but soon after its completion, Taliban took control of the road and started collecting tax from the users of road. In this scenario peace and stability is required badly.
Peace Process: Talks with Taliban in Afghanistan
As mentioned earlier, India is close allied of Northern Alliance and opposing Taliban. In Afghanistan, despite the presence of Allied Forces and ISAF for almost two decades, major portion of Afghanistan is under Taliban control. Any future settlement of Afghan crisis is apparently not possible without the involvement of Taliban. Even USA has realized it and they are using back channel diplomacy for this purpose. As it is believed that Taliban are the prodigy of Pakistan that’s why India always opposed Taliban power sharing suggestions. India will never accept any Pakistan friendly government in Afghanistan. Any future settlements with Taliban will resultant in expulsion of India from Afghanistan. India is trying to pressurize or sabotage any such initiative in Afghanistan. This move is itself alarming for Pakistan.
Afghanistan: Gateway to CAR’s
Afghanistan is an important country of the region as it is adjacent to China and Central Asian Republics (CARs). After the disintegration of USSR, newly independent Central Asian Republics were full of opportunities for the world. They are rich in minerals and natural resources. Again Karachi is the nearest warm water sea port for easy trade with the rest of the world. Afghanistan serves as gateway to the CAR’s. Since long, India wants access to the Central Asian Republics through inland routes via Pakistan and Afghanistan. USA also supports India but Pakistan has not granted the Most Favored Nation status to India so far. To get the direct access to CAR’s is one the main objective of India behind the extra ordinary cordial relations with Afghanistan.
Chahbahar versus Karachi
The Indian government has invested more than US$100 million in the expansion of the Chahbahar port, situated in free trade zone of Makran coast in south-eastern Iran which would serve as a hub for the transportation of transit goods (9/11 Strategic Analysis. 2007).
Earlier Afghanistan was using Karachi seaport for Transit Trade. Therefore, an alternative route for the duty free transportation of goods through sea route was made available to Afghanistan to reduce its economic dependence on Pakistan’s. India’s benefit is greater as it will use that route for trade with Afghanistan as well as Central Asian States through the sea. For this purpose India repeatedly requested for trade and transit facilities from Pakistan.
India heavily invested on infrastructure in Afghanistan. Building of 270 km long Delaram-Zaranj Road was one of the longest build roads by any country in Afghan so far. India entirely built this road from its own resources. By building this road, India achieved many goals. On the one hand, it painted soft image of India as a helpful and friendly nation, not only for Afghans but for international community as well. The massage it conveyed to its distant neighbor Afghanistan was that being their well-wisher, Indians were spending for their development. On the other hand, it planned to promote its exports in the region. The Central Asian’s markets will be in its access through Iranian sea port via Mumbai sea port.
Although India is a distant neighbor of Afghanistan but its support for Afghanistan development projects is visibly alarming for Pakistan. Many international and regional stake holders are supporting Indian presence in Afghanistan in order to serve their personal interests. Despite of the fact that the presence of India in Afghanistan has serious percussions for Pakistan, India is increasing its involvement and scale of co-operation. India is actively investing in Afghanistan in political, economic and social sector.
In political field, India has invested in order to prove that it is the largest democracy in the world. That’s why it is supporting democracy in the new democratic country. In economic sector India is investing, because its economy is big. India wants new markets to sell its finished goods and get raw material. Afghanistan is itself a good opportunity for them along with being adjacent to the CAR’s is a gateway to the lands of opportunities. Therefore, India is present there to reap the fruit. In the social sector India is investing on the people. In this way it is building a soft image in the hearts of the people of Afghanistan.
After thorough study of level and volume of Indian investment, it is clear that India is interested to increase its investment and to show its presence in the country after 2014 NATO forces withdrawl. India is not willing to allow Pakistan to fill the gap which will be created after the expected withdrawl of the ISAF forces. It seems that India is particularly interested in extending road and transport networks to Central Asian States through Afghanistan. It will provide easy landing to India for longer period in mineral rich CAR’s
India is following the popular saying that says; enemy of my enemy is my friend. Since the inception of Pakistan, India always lends friendship hand to Afghanistan. On the other hand, Afghanistan always created problems for Pakistan. Either it was Pakhtoonistan issue or supporting Pukhtoon or Baluch separatist, Afghan government stance was always against Pakistan. Pakistan has no objection regarding India’s presence in Afghanistan. Both are independent and sovereign countries. They are free to develop relations with each other. However, when India use Afghanistan as a platform to create problems for Pakistan then it became a point of concern for Pakistan. This kind of situation has serious implications for Pakistan. Whenever India and Afghanistan came closer, Pak-Afghan relations turn into hostile relations. This should not happen.
India must realize that neighbors can’t be change. In this modern era, ages old rivals like France and United Kingdom, China and Japan and many others are promoting trade and other activities with each other. Rivalries are actually counter-productive. Trade is the new term of relationships between nations and bi-lateral cordial relations are the key to success. Peaceful Afghanistan is the pre-requisite for the stability in the region. Afghanistan is in the state of war for last four decades. Now it is the prime duty of all regional countries to help to restore peace in the region. Only then we can prosper as well as could be able to alleviate poverty.