|Demand of the question Introduction. Contextual introduction. Body. Discuss India’s policy towards Afghanistan. How is peace in Afghanistan important for India? Conclusion. Way forward.|
India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship based on historical and cultural links. The relationship is not limited to the governments, but has its foundations in the historical contacts and exchanges between the people. The strategic location of Afghanistan as a connection to Central Asia and West Asia is important for Indian efforts to establish stronger and more direct commercial and political relations with Central Asia.
India’s policy towards Afghanistan:
- Re-building indigenous Afghan capacity: India policy towards Afghanistan is to help rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure and institutions, education and technical assistance in order to rebuild indigenous Afghan capacity in different areas.
- Peace and reconciliation: India is encouraging an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned broad-based and inclusive process of peace and reconciliation and advocating the need for a sustained and long-term commitment to Afghanistan by the international community.
- Reconstruction and development: India has inaugurated the Afghan-India friendship dam, earlier known as Salma Dam. It highlights India’s continued commitment to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and development. India agreed to implement some important new projects such as the Shahtoot Dam and drinking water project for Kabul.
- Strengthening democratic institutions in Afghanistan: India has focused on strengthening democratic institutions in Afghanistan through various efforts like inaugurating the newly built Afghan Parliament. India also announced additional USD 1 billion assistance for capability building in spheres such as education, health, agriculture, skill development, women’s empowerment, energy, infrastructure for the same.
- Soft power: India is focusing on soft power methods that involve winning hearts and minds and strengthening its cultural and political relations with Afghanistan. India’s contribution to the development of cricket in Afghanistan is such an example.
- No military intervention: India is not in favour of using the military in Afghanistan. It was reflected in the recent rejection of the USA proposal to India to intervene militarily. India is in favour of no boots in the Afghanistan.
- Mutual sharing and solidarity: The development partnership of India-Afghanistan is based on the principles of mutual sharing and solidarity which is branched into five founding modalities of development cooperation that includes capacity building, trade and investment, technology cooperation and others.
Significance of peace in Afghanistan:
- Natural resources: Afghanistan is known for its geo-strategic importance and abundance of natural resources. Afghanistan has an estimated 1 trillion USD of untapped resources according to a joint report of The Pentagon and US Geological Survey. Stable Afghanistan with better relations means more economic development in the region and of India.
- Security: A stable Afghanistan is crucial for regional and domestic security and stability for India. With Afghanistan becoming a centre of radical ideology and violence again, such a development would affect Pakistan and would inevitably reach India.
- Connectivity: The most important role of Afghanistan is always considered as India’s gateway to Central Asia. It implies continental outreach. For instance,Connectivity with Afghanistan and further with Central Asia have been primarily the reasons for India’s engagement with Iran to develop Chabahar port.
- Strengthening regional foothold: Increasing strategic engagements with Afghanistan combination is beneficial for India in strengthening a foothold in the region. For example, India’s relations with Iran at present are dominated by oil. Diversification of engagements would strengthen India’s relations with Iran and other countries.
- Energy ambitions: To address its energy needs to sustain its economic growth, pipelines from Iran and Central Asia would be extremely important. India sees Afghanistan as an essential component of the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline. An unstable Afghanistan would hurt the construction of this pipeline and the subsequent flow of gas.
- Trade: In case of trade, Afghanistan can help India export its products to Europe, gaining foreign exchange. The railway line from Chabahar to Zahedan in Afghanistan envisages to connect New Delhi with Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe.
The importance of Afghanistan is multi-dimensional. Also, India understands that a peaceful Afghanistan will help in a peaceful India and South Asia in a world which is threatening to break into a war anytime. A stable Afghanistan is in everyone’s interests and the regional security is intrinsically enmeshed with it.