Afghan end-game: Does India get screwed?

Disquiet is growing in India that Pakistan is gaining the upper hand in a “proxy war” in Afghanistan as the two juggle for influence in an end-game that risks a political vacuum if the U.S.-led war winds down…

Last week’s high level strategic dialogue between Pakistan’s military and U.S. politicians in Washington, praise for Pakistan’s crackdown on Taliban commanders and promises of swifter U.S. aid have added to India’s sense of playing second fiddle.

Underlying this is a perception that Western powers need Pakistan more than India to broker any deal with the Taliban if there is any U.S. troops withdrawal, creating a potential flashpoint in relations between the emerging Asian economic power and the West…

Both India and Pakistan have for decades sought to secure influence in this Central Asian geopolitical crossroads and President Barack Obama’s public, if vague, time-table to start to withdraw military forces has added to an urgency to gain leverage.

With the Taliban in power during the 1990s, India lost sway in Afghanistan. Under Afghan President Hamid Karzai, India used economic clout, some $1.3 billion in aid, to up its presence with new consulates and the construction of power lines and highways.

For New Delhi, it helped guarantee Afghanistan would not become a harbor of militants who could cross over to Kashmir.

But the London conference on Afghanistan in January was a turning point for many in India. It ushered in the idea that Europe and the United States could accept getting certain Taliban commanders involved in a deal to bring stability to Afghanistan.

“There is a genuine sense of disappointment – even disbelief – that the US perspective on reconciling the Taliban evolved all too abruptly, contrary to what Delhi was given to understand,” said M.K. Bhadrakumar, a former Indian diplomat who has worked in Islamabad and Kabul.

While a significant number of other Afghanistan watchers say the euphoria over London was overdone, and question especially whether Washington significantly softened its position on reconciliation with the Taliban, Bhadrakumar’s view is common in India.

RTFA. Long, useful – even though a portion of it relies on interviews with politicians in both India and Pakistan who are out of power. Which means they’re perfectly willing to play the fear-card to get back into office.

Poisonally, I think India can stand on their own alongside anyone in the region and not worry about going back to yclept political games.

3 thoughts on “Afghan end-game: Does India get screwed?

  1. Neel says:

    If India gets screwed, it will make life difficult for the interested parties, and make sure no one will emerge an winner, the Americans included.

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