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Kabul-New Delhi Cooperation Benefits the Region

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Amid multiple conflicting issues and hostile views that have historically marked the relations among the hostile states of India, Pakistan and Afghanistan In south Asia with enduring distrust and contentions, on October 04, 2011 Afghanistan and India signed a strategic partnership agreement. The partnership pact simply invigorated the lasting rivalry into a new game in South Asia region that mainly involves the hostile regional countries as significant players in the game. Hereby in the following paragraphs the opportunity each player can seize through the game is argued on.

The neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan despite having much in common, have long disputed each other over a range of conflicting issues. The controversial Durand line which cuts through the ethnic Pashtuns and politically destroys the feasibility of a greater ethnic Pashtun state on either side of the line has been a constant territorial issue for both the neighboring countries. The two neighboring states have much endured due to conflicts originated in the Durand line issue.

From geostrategic and geoeconomic perspectives, Pakistan sees Afghanistan as its backyard. Competition over the economic opportunities in the central Asia and Afghanistan has intensified the rivalry between India and Pakistan. Traditionally, The Pakistani officials have much tried to counter India with a united bloc of Islamic countries including Afghanistan over the Kashmir issue to hinder its regional influence.

On the other hand, officials in Islamabad are deeply suspicious of Indian influences across its western border. For much of its history, Pakistan has pursued a policy of “strategic depth” in Afghanistan through funding, training and equipping mostly militant groups that implement the Pakistani agenda in Afghanistan. That is why that more than a decade US and NATO struggle against the terrorism and insurgency in Afghanistan has achieved little.

The strong presence of India in Afghanistan has led to anger within the strategic community in Pakistan. The neighboring Pakistan worries that India is trying to encircle it by gaining influence in Afghanistan. Also, Pakistan has expressed concerns that India’s economic and political linkages led to building up Indian capacity to destabilize Pakistan. The Pakistani officials several times have voiced that the Indian consulates in Jalalabad and Kandahar are covertly supporting Baluch separatists in Baluchistan. A mostly Baluch ethnic residential and the most deprived province in Pakistan.

India sees a strong, independent, stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan as being crucial to her security interests and for the overall stability of the region in the evolving geopolitical and geostrategic scenarios. Building up and sustaining the capability of the government of Afghanistan through external assistance to provide for its own security is therefore the first and indispensable step in the pursued of this objective. For India Afghanistan is undoubtedly a very important partner in the region to project its power status and to secure its entry into energy rich and untapped markets of central Asia.

India helps Afghanistan’s reconstruction not only in light of security competition between India and Pakistan but also on the other hand the Indian officials suavely pursue a desire to show that India has earned the capability  to be seen  as an extra-regional power moving toward great power status.

Over a decade international military and civilian assistances in Afghanistan seem have earned little gains, particularly in the area of security. According to Afghans including both the officials and the public, Pakistan, in particular its powerful army and ISI have been the main origin of the challenges in Afghanistan as the agencies covertly supports and trains the militants to destabilize Afghanistan. The Pakistani establishments constantly use the religious extremists as a strategic tool to implement a Pakistani agenda in Afghanistan and to attack the Indian assets in the region.

perceiving the regional circumstance and capabilities with predicting the post-2014 requirements the Afghan officials in October 2011signed the strategic partnership agreement with India to guarantee the continuation of the underway reconstruction of Afghanistan and future commitment at a time when the US and other NATO members withdrawing from Afghanistan. Afghanistan sees India, enough strong to play a more constructive role in rebuilding the shattered economy of Afghanistan, a nation devastated by a prolonged and seemingly interminable conflict.

Apart from the tempt of funds for reconstruction, The government of Afghanistan also views the strong ties with India as a means to assuage the sense of insecurity and capable of assisting the war-torn nation to stabilize the helpless nation on account of the debilitating power struggle anticipated in the power vacuum following the withdrawal in 2014 of the US and NATO forces. Recognizing the India’s capability, Afghanistan opted to go along with a partner that can effectively contribute to stability and prosperity.

The Afghan president’s visit from India amid strained relations between Islamabad and Kabul over a range of issues at the top border clashes can be sincerely meant strengthening the strategic partnership agreement signed in October 2011. Development cooperation along with training, equipping the Afghan security forces by India doesn’t only harm the regional interests of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries but also it can help stabilize the region. Reconstruction and Stabilization of Afghanistan through international including India assistances as pave the way for India, helps any other regional players to seize opportunity in Afghanistan and particularly in the central Asian states.

Under the Afghan-Indian strategic partnership agreement, Afghanistan can be developed as a hub linking south and central Asia because it sits in both regions; it can benefit the countries of South Asia, in particular Pakistan which by its geography as a landlocked Afghanistan’s neighbor with the longest border has a key role to play. If the regional hostile states reach an understanding and led Afghanistan be developed leading to regional economic integration, Pakistan more than any other players enjoys the opportunity to play in the region. But it surely depends on structural reforms in Pakistan. With the current structure of power in Pakistan it seems hard to reach the ambitions.

Mohammad Yasin Sultani is a permanent writer of the Daily Afghanistan Express. He can be contacted through yaasin.sultani@gmail.com

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