India’s Central Asian outreach

Synopsis: Afghanistan’s situation has thrown up challenges in the India-Central Asias relationship.

Introduction

The developments in Afghanistan have opened a new set of challenges for India’s regional and bilateral ties with Central Asia and the Caucasus.

What are Central Asian initiatives to resolve the Afghan crisis?

The re-emergence of the Taliban has exposed the weakness of coalitions like Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). It has largely been used by its member countries to meet their own regional, geo-strategic and security interests.

Read hereCan the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation be the regional body that stabilises Afghanistan?

As the SCO failed to collectively respond to the Afghan crisis, the Central Asian leaders met in Turkmenistan to voice their concerns over the Afghan situation. They raised their concerns over the presence of Central Asian terror groups within Afghanistan and along their borders.

What is India’s relation with Central Asian countries?

India’s Connect Central Asia policy is aimed at furthering India’s political, economic, historical and cultural connections with the region. India signed the Strategic Partnership Agreements (SPA) with Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to stimulate defence cooperation and deepen trade relations.

Read more: India and Central Asia
Recent developments in India-Central Asia relations

To secure its interests in Afghanistan and push for an inclusive regime, India’s External Affair Minister (EAM) visited Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Armenia, which are India’s key partners in Central Asia and Eurasia.

Kyrgyzstan: India extended a credit line of $200 million for the support of development projects. It also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on High-Impact Community Development Projects (HICDP).

Kazakhstan: Indian EAM attended the 6th Foreign Ministers’ Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures(CICA). In this, he targeted China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)  and its method to promote parochial interests. He also criticized Pakistan for its support towards cross-border terrorism.

Armenia: Both countries agreed to enhance trade and cultural exchanges to boost bilateral relations. India also supported efforts for a peaceful solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk group.

Read moreExplained: Why Armenia and Azerbaijan are at loggerheads over Nagorno-Karabakh

However, the unstable situation in Afghanistan and a highly problematic India-Pakistan relation have deprived India of the benefit of relations with Central Asia.

Source: This post is based on the article “India’s Central Asian outreachpublished in The Hindu on 25th October 2021.

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