India being denied the Effective Role in Afghanistan?

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The brazen killing of the 9 Indian nationals in the recent Kabul suicide attack by the Taliban-backed suicide group has forced most of the commentators on the international relations like us to think and analyze as to what the current foreign policy of India factually is. This in turn has raised certain question marks over the current Indian foreign policy on Afghanistan.

The NATO and the USA have their substantial military presence in Afghanistan in order to protect their respective security and other vital national and international interests. But, India does not seem to be present in adequate military numbers there to protect its ongoing international commitments. These commitments include like building of the infrastructure facilities such as roads, hospitals, providing health care and so on.

Inspite of India being one of the major contributors to the ongoing development projects in Afghanistan, it is lamented in some quarters that the West isn't giving much room to India for manoeuvring  in Afghanistan. Also, it is said that the USA has made India adopt a low profile in Afghanistan so as not to annoy Pakistan, the current key ally of the USA in the fight against the ousted Taliban elements both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. This American attitude is said to have not helped India protect its legitimate interests and vital strategic concerns vis a vis Pakistan. Further, it is argued that India is unwilling to be involved in Afghanistan.

Contrary to the above held perception, the factual truth seems to be otherwise. India is certainly interested and willing to get a bigger role in Afghanistan. Otherwise how can one explain fully the substantial monetary and other help being rendered to the Afghanistan government by the current Indian government?

The Indian government did not appreciate the perception on the Taliban issue held by most of the participating countries in the London conference. The West distinguished clearly between ‘the Good' Moderate Taliban and 'the Bad' Extremist Taliban elements. The Indian delegates on the other hand treated all the Taliban elements as belonging to only one category, that is ‘the Bad' Category.

The Indian government has failed to perceive the factual reality of the Taliban being a' thought process' which is pervading the hearts and minds of the majority of the muslim people both in Afghanistan and Pakistan besides other muslim countries.

Its easier to destroy small groups or the physical structures, but not the thought process. The thought process perceived to be harmful has to be countered only through equally effective counter thought process aided suitably by the visible humanitarian acts on the actual ground.

The Taliban isn't just a small bunch of the people or some non-living isolated building structure that can easily be destroyed once and for all by attacking it militarily. The hindus-dominated LTTE could easily be wiped out militarily totally only because it had no effective support from the hindu-majority India or supporters in other countries. But, the Taliban does have popular public support across the muslim world despite the Taliban military capability being no match for the Allied forces in Afghanistan. This factual reality cannot be wished away.

The West seems to have finally realized the above outlined factual realities and hence it possibly thought of trying out the Reconciliation Approach towards the Taliban, but only with respect to its ‘Moderate' elements. The Indian government didn't seem to factor in the West's this analysis. So, why should the West have been expected then to let the Indian government possessed by the ghost of outdated ideas  have a greater say in the Afghan affairs?

The USA government does not appear to have at any stage asked New Delhi to play a low-profile role in Afghanistan. The Obama Administration can do nothing to get India involved seriously in Afghanistan if the Indian government itself showed no initiative on this front. On the one hand, the Indian establishment seems to be keen on a role in Afghanistan as reflected in India's big financial help to the Hamid Karzai government. On the other hand, it does not wish to be involved militarily there. Why? Is it because of the earlier bad experience of the IPKF in Srilanka? Nothing comes for free and on its own in the international diplomatic arena.

The Indian government has failed to utilize the services of its own large muslim sunni population as regards Afghanistan. The Taliban elements are basically the sunnis and seem to have a big support base in Saudi Arabia, the sunni-dominated muslim country. The Indian government could  effectively have protected its vital security interests in the landlocked Afghanistan and the south Asian region only if it had wisely mobilized its sunni diplomats who could have facilitated the yielding of the desired results in view of their also being the sunnis. The commonality of the religion could have helped in this diplomatic process.

After all, the USA has to ensure that the Taliban elements do no harm to the American interests and are fully neutralised. This the USA hopes to accomplish partly by utilizing the Pakistani friendly relations with the moderate Taliban elements. So, why blame the Americans for their slight for-the-time-being tilt towards Pakistani establishment which is said to have an effective rapport with the moderate Taliban elements and in fact are said to be in possession of full information on all activities and members of the Taliban?

Isn't it the time for the Indian government to wake up from its deep sleep and ensure peace in the south Asian region by actively participating in Afghanistan both militarily and otherwise?  

 

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