Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, April 20th, 2018

Afghan-Indian Strategic Pact

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Afghan-Indian Strategic Pact

The strategic pact between Afghanistan and India, though has great value for Afghanistan, comes at such a period of time that it is bound to have negative impacts on the Af-Pak relations that have been going through a deteriorating trend specifically after the attacks on US Embassy and NATO head quarters and the death of Burhand ud din Rabbani. Both the incidents were linked to Haqqani network and Pakistani spy agency was blamed for having links with the network both by US and Afghan authorities.

Even if there are no intensions from Afghanistan and India to promote this strategic pact so as to irritate Pakistan, it is bound to be irritating for it. Pakistan's perspective of strategic depth in Afghanistan has always strived to see no much involvement of India in Afghanistan, while the situation is going quite contrary to that.

Moreover, India and Pakistan have been pursuing their foreign relations in accordance to the theory of International Relations that says, "My enemy's enemy is my friend, while my enemy's friend in my enemy." Though this particular approach has been very much costly for both the nations, they have not been able to discard their approach in the favor of regional cooperation.

The current strategic pact, which has been signed between Afghanistan and India during the visit of President Karzai to India, includes cooperation in different fields. In the words of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, "The agreement creates an institutional framework for our future cooperation in the fields of politics, security, trade, economy, capacity building, education, social, cultural and people-to-people relations."

Definitely, this pact seems to be very comprehensive and would ascertain Indian influence in Afghanistan as the international forces are in the process of withdrawal. The pact would also involve training and support of Afghan forces from their Indian counterparts and the Indian support for countering terrorism in Afghanistan and establishing peace and tranquility. "We had detailed and frank discussions on the issue of terrorism.

This threatens our entire region and no country can remain immune to its lethal effects," Singh said. Moreover, India has been eyeing a dominant position in regional affairs in the political scenario to come. Therefore, it is going to participate in the forthcoming conferences in Istanbul and Bonn Conference to contribute to international and regional initiatives to support Afghanistan's efforts at nation building. US also believes that India can play a larger role in Afghanistan.

From Afghanistan's point of view, it is very much necessary that the relations with the neighbors should be established on strong terms and the foreign policies should be pursued in accordance to the national interests. The country at the moment is going through very critical circumstances.

The terrorist activities are getting very much serious, even the securest of the areas and the most important of the personalities are being targeted; political and economic setups are struggling to stand on their own. The political reconciliation with Taliban has failed and the international forces are going to withdraw, while the capabilities of Afghan forces are being questioned.

In such crucial circumstances it is necessary that the regional countries that are having a comparative stability must support the country. Therefore, the Afghan-Indian strategic cooperation if pursued with true intensions can really be helpful for Afghan people to a large extend.

Definitely, if the international troops decide to withdraw, it is only the regional support that can help Afghanistan in guaranteeing its stability and development. But that is an ideal situation, the important thing is how the regional countries respond to the upcoming political changes and above all how Afghanistan itself will respond to those changes.

Recognizing the issue of terrorism as a major hindrance in the way to prosperity and stability not only in Afghanistan but the entire region Afghan president mentioned during his visit, "Afghanistan recognizes the danger that this region is facing through terrorism and the radicalism that's been used as an instrument of policy against civilians, against innocent citizens of our countries." But he also made commitment that his country would "aspire to a life that is free of violence, and will seek cooperation and understanding from the members of this region, including our other neighbor."

Though in theory Afghan president has been emphasizing on the regional cooperation, recently the relations with Pakistan does not seem to be going on the track. Even if there is no satisfactory contribution on the part of Pakistan for tightening the bonds, the importance of better relations with them can never be neglected.

Therefore, the creation of unfavorable situations should be avoided as much as possible. Currently, the relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan are very tense and suffering from the blame game, which can have no future in the diplomatic relations between the two countries. The strategic pact between Afghanistan and India can further deteriorate the relations between Afghanistan and India if the situation is not handled with diplomatic prudence.

Unfortunately, Pakistan and India have always pursued their foreign policies in opposition to each other. Their relations with Afghanistan have also been dominated by the same policy. In the process the type of regional cooperation that can benefit the region in getting rid of the menace of terrorism has not been established.

Afghanistan, in this regard has to keep in mind that it does not have to use this scenario in establishing relations with India and Pakistan, because in that case the cooperation can only be conditional. Afghanistan has to keep its national interest as the top priority matter, while establishing relations with these two countries.

Whereas, its national interest lies in healthy relations with both the countries. A former Indian diplomat in Pakistan, Mr. Parthasarthy, while commenting on the present scenario, has mentioned, "Everybody keeps options open depending on how the solution evolves," and "It would serve no one's interest for Afghanistan and India to join together in snubbing their volatile neighbor." Relating to the Afghans particularly he has mentioned, "Afghans are pragmatic people. There is a dependence on Pakistan they can't wish away," including the need for access to the sea, he said.

So, Afghanistan has to be very clear with its policies and its advantages in the future political scenario. If it is tightening bonds with India, it has to make sure that it has to depend on better relations with Pakistan, as well.

Dilawar Sherzai is the permanent writer of the Daily outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at outlookafghanistan@gmail.com

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