Context

  • India has agreed to enrich the existing assistance to Afghan security forces, including in capacity building and training of Afghan soldiers in India, during a Partnership Council meeting on Monday, even as Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister suggested a larger role for India in regional diplomacy.

What is the current situation in Afghanistan?

  • The country is in one of the most violent periods of its recent history, and its challenges are deepening.
  • Afghanistan’s war is fueled by support from within Pakistan for Taliban insurgents, and by poor governance within Afghanistan, including deep-rooted patronage systems and corruption, and a weak rule of law.
  • With no reliable agreement on the peace process and an ongoing Taliban offensive, the insurgency continues to take a heavy toll on the civilian population and Afghan security forces.
  • The withdrawal of international combat troops between 2011 and 2014 left a fragile security environment and a struggling national economy.
  • Since the disputed 2014 presidential election, friction between the two halves of the “National Unity Government” has prevented the government from implementing widely supported reforms, notably against corruption.
  • This has deepened public discontent and questions over the government’s legitimacy.
  • The Taliban has been on the comeback path in southern and eastern Afghanistan, and the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of Pakistan has become a mini-Taliban state with Pakistan almost losing its control over it.

Historical Background

What is the history of the turmoil in Afghanistan?

  • Afghanistan lies between Saudi Arabia and India, and it’s directly bordered to the west by Iran, to the east by Pakistan, and to the north by former Soviet republics.
  • The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in order to prop up a communist government. The war dragged on for 10 years, with the United States supporting the Islamic insurgents who resisted the Soviets.
  • By the 1990s, the Soviets had left, the Americans had lost interest and parts of the country were lawless and chaotic, opening up the space for Taliban to enter.
  • In 1996, the Taliban took over the capital city of Kabul roughly, the same time Osama bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan after being ousted from Sudan.
  • Bin Laden’s group, al-Qaida, set up training camps in Afghanistan, and al-Qaida planned the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, there.
  • After the terrorist attacks, the United States invaded Afghanistan, removed the Taliban and chased bin Laden into the mountainous region on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Bin Laden disappeared, and the United States has had a military presence in Afghanistan ever since.

Who are Taliban?

  • Roughly translated, the word means “student,” and members of the Taliban came together out of strict Islamic schools.

They countered Afghanistan’s warlords and imposed order, but they also banned music and forced women to wear head-to-toe coverings.

How is India – Afghanistan relationprogressed?

  • The Soviet Russian military invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and India is the only South Asian country to recognize this move.
  • In the 1990s Afghan Civil warweakened its relationship with India
  • In 2001 USA invaded Afghanistan and India also helped this move to overthrow Taliban regime.
  • India provided humanitarian aidfor its reconstruction and development after the invasion
  • In 2005 India proposed for Afghanistan’s membership in SAARC 
  • In 2008 Indian embassy was bombed inKabul, (Capital of Afghanistan)
  • In 2009 the Border Roads Organization of Indian army constructed a road in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province
  • In 2011 India Afghanistan relationship strengthened further due to the signing of Strategic Partnership Agreement.

BILATERAL TRADE

  • India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links, it’s focal point have been trade and commerce.
  • The Silk road has proved to pave the way of forever existing equation between the two countries.
  • Their corridor is important for the geo-strategic location connecting the East and the West Asia.
  • India’s bilateral trade with Afghanistan stood at $684.47 million in 2014-15, an increase of 0.20% over $683.10 million a year ago.
  • India’s export to Afghanistan in 2014-15 stood at $ 422.56 million, while its imports from Afghanistan were worth $261.91 million.
  • India delivered three Russian made MI-25 attack helicopters to Afghanistan in December 2015.

CULTURAL RELATIONS

  • ICCR Scholarships for Afghan students for education and technical skills.
  • Technical Capacity building programs of ITEC and ICAR for Afghan mid-career officers.
  • Sister City relations:
  • Kabul – New Delhi
  • Kandahar – Mumbai
  • Ajmer Sharif – Herat
  • Hyderabad – Jalalabad
  • Ahmedabad – Asadabad
  • State of Assam – Province of Helmand

ECONOMIC RELATIONS

The Preferential Trade Agreement signed in March 2003 under which India allowed duty concessions, and removed custom duties for all Afghan products.

  • With the Operation of Chabahar Port in Iran, Afghan exports would receive further boost, as a new transit route for trade.
  • Steel authority if India is setting a plant in Afghanistan’s Hajigak iron ore reserves.
  • The volume of Indo-Afghan trade stood at $680 million during 2013-2014, a figure that should exponentially rise, following the full implementation of the Afghanistan and Pakistan Trade and Transit Agreement (APTTA).
  • The Afghanistan Embassy has so far signed five memorandums of understanding (MOUs) covering commercial and medical cooperation between Afghanistan’s respective chambers of commerce and hospitals, while it has initiated another 20 MOUs with state chambers and hospitals across India, in the coming months.
  • Indian investors remain deeply interested in the many “virgin markets” of Afghanistan, including mining, agriculture and agribusiness, information and technology, telecommunications, and others.

More than 100 largely midsize Indian businesses have already invested in Afghanistan, the Afghan government is strongly encouraging capital intensive investment in the natural resources and infrastructure sector.

Why Should India help Afghanistan in gaining stability?

  • India has continued to pursue a policy of high-level engagement with Afghanistan through extensive and wide-ranging humanitarian, financial and project assistance.
  • A peaceful Afghanistan is good for Indian trade and energy security.
  • India has a fundamental interest in ensuring that Afghanistan emerges as a stable and economically integrated state in the region.
  • The only way in which the Afghanistan Government can retain and enhance its legitimacy is by bringing the Afghan economy back on track.
  • To do so largely depends on other states and India is playing an important role in this regard.
  • Strategically Afghanistan is important to India’s dream of accessing the Central Asian market.
  • India’s involvement in Afghanistan aims to address its strategic concerns.
  • India is engaged in the economic development of Afghanistan, which is likely to sustain its presence in the post-transition phase.
  • The challenging interests of the regional countries would make Afghanistan unstable. India would like to be engaged with the regional countries in finding a solution to Afghanistan.
  • It shares Kabul’s apprehensions regarding drug problems and extremism in Afghanistan.
  • India needs a peaceful Afghanistan for its energy desire.
  • India, an observer in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, has been pursuing better relations with the Central Asian states for energy cooperation.
  • Afghanistan is not only relevant from the security perspective, but also as an essential gateway to the hydrocarbon-rich Central Asia.
  • This region, if made accessible, could improve the resource portfolio of an energy-thirsty economy, while reducing the dependency on supplies from the Middle East.
  • Moreover, it would allow India to chime in to the concert of other nations, such as Russia and China, seeking to exert influence in Central Asia and exploit the energy hotspots.

What are the challenges to India and Afghanistan relations?

Security

  • The return of the Taliban to Afghanistan would pose a major threat to India’s borders.
  • In the end, the brunt of escalating terrorism will be borne by India.
  • Indian strategists warn that a hurried US withdrawal from Afghanistan will have serious implications for India, not the least of which would be to see Pakistan rush to fill the vacuum.
  • An alliance between the ISI, Taliban and ISIS may be very much on the cards and if that happens, then India’s sovereignty will come under enormous strain considering the recent attacks on Gurdaspur where the terrorists avoided their traditional route through the Valley.
  • The risks to global security from a failure in Afghanistan are great.
  • Abandoning the goal of establishing a functioning Afghan state and a moderate Pakistan places greater pressure on Indian security.

Economic

  • India and China are both keen to invest in Afghanistan’s infrastructural development work so strengthen the bilateral ties.
  • Both are eager to grasp the opportunities of a new market, both civil and military supplies.
  • The regional group SAARC’s ineffectiveness in economic aspects is attributed partially to the disturbed ties between the India-pakistan relations and the role of Afghanistan is a part of it.
  • Pakistan sees India working in Afghanistan as a concern whereas it is a must for India’s regional interests.
  • The economic investment of Afghanistan in India is disproportionate as it is India acting as a big brother in both the relationship.

Way ahead

  • India’s presence in Afghanistan is to address its security concerns and help structure the regional security architecture that would facilitate its aspiration to play a more visible role in the political and economic affairs of the region.
  • Planning to remain unified in overcoming the challenges posed by cross-border terrorism and safe havens and sanctuaries to both our countries is a necessity.
  • There has been an announcement of 500 new scholarships for children and kin of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) to honour their sacrifices “for the cause of entire humanity” and ensuring the safety of Indians working in Afghanistan.
  • The ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan are getting weakened and it presents an opportunity to India for further engagement with Afghanistan.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Did you like what you read?

Enter your email address below to get all our updates in your inbox the moment it is published. Once you enter your email address, you will be subscribed immediately.


We do not spam you, so you can easily unsubscribe anytime, by clicking on unsubscribe link in the email.