[Answered] “With rising tensions and recent conditions of destabilisation in Afghanistan India need to figure out how to secure its interests in Afghanistan where it has a significant footprint.” Discuss.

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Discuss the impact of destabilisation and tensions in Afghanistan on India’s strategic interest. How India should secure its interests in Afghanistan?
Conclusion. Way forward.

Recent attacks by the Islamic State (IS), including the suicide bomb attack at a wedding reception in Kabul that killed many Afghans, have created a situation of tensions and conditions of destabilisation in Afghanistan. Further, US desire to reduce military footprint in Afghanistan will create increasing pressure on regional powers to step up their game. India will be no exception. So, India’s Afghanistan policy should rapidly adapt to the evolving realities and play a role that suits India’s stature in the context of the wider South Asian region.

Impact of destabilisation and tensions in Afghanistan on India’s strategic interests:

  1. Increased Pakistan leverage: The reason for Taliban’s resilience is the support it receives from Rawalpindi. Pakistan’s leverage in Afghanistan is set to grow. India’s Afghanistan policy has a major objective to curtail Islamabad’s influence in Kabul and deny Pakistan’s state and non-state agents leverage to plot against Indian interests.
  2. Unstable Kashmir: The destabilisation in Afghanistan will affect the Kashmir Valley as terrorist outfits may feel empowered and would increase their presence in Kashmir.
  3. Geopolitics: Afghanistan is tied to India’s vision of being a regional leader and a great power, coupled with its competition with China over resources and its need to counter Pakistani influence. China is already making inroads into Afghanistan with her BRI project. The process will be further easier.
  4. Economic Interests: India’s Afghanistan policy’s another objective is to gain access to vast energy markets in Central Asia, is also at stake. India has presence in Afghanistan after the construction of the Chabahar Port in Iran and the highway that links it to Kabul. Indian infrastructure projects of Salma dam, Parliament building, infrastructure projects will be at stake.
  5. India’s image: India’s ability to mentor a nascent democracy will go a long way to demonstrate to the world that India is indeed a major power, especially a responsible one. Any destabilisation would impact such efforts.

How India should secure its interests in Afghanistan?

  1. India must focus on assisting Afghanistan in every manner possible to ensure that the country’s sorts are as peaceful and participative as possible.
  2. On the military front as well, India must move quickly to provide helicopters as well as engineering/tech support for Afghan hardware.
  3. Inactive SAARC must now be revived to strengthen the regional co-operation in South Asia.
  4. For regional security there must be closer involvement of regional powers in international efforts to ensure non-interference and a stable Afghanistan. This also requires involvement of the Central Asian Republics, which border Afghanistan. It is important for India to coordinate its efforts with those of Russia and Iran to ensure success.
  5. India must seek to build capacities and capabilities of Afghan nationals and its institutions for governance and delivery of public service, develop socio-economic infrastructure, secure lives and promote livelihood.

Afghanistan is important for India’s strategic and economic interests. Further India has a lot at stake in Afghanistan. Continuing the efforts of implementing mega infrastructure projects, providing military equipments and training to Afghan personnel on the sidelines is important. India must use regional groupings like SCO to combat the terrorism emanating from Afghanistan.

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