India-Afghanistan Relationship : Importance and effect of other countries

India-Afghanistan Relationship : Importance and effect of other countries


– Traditionally relations between two countries been strong and friendly.
– In surveys year after year, India has been described as “the most friendly country.
– India recognized the Soviet-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan in the 1980s.
– Relations deteriorated during Taliban regime
– After the overthrow of the Taliban, India established diplomatic relations with the newly established democratic government and assisted in rebuilding of Afghanistan.
– Three memorandums of understanding (MOUs) for strengthening cooperation in the fields of rural development, education and standardization between the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Afghan National Standardization Authority were signed between Afghanistan and India in 2006.
– India signed an Agreement on Strategic Partnership with Afghanistan in October 2011.
– End of NATO mission in Afghanistan that begun in 2003 with only few soldiers left. By 2017 US will completely withdrew from Afghanistan.
– The vacuum created by end of NATO mission is being filled by growing influence of China in that region with support from Pakistan.

What are the issues in front of Afghanistan after withdrawal of NATO troops ?

1. Security
2. Economy
3. Drugs
4. Institution building
5. Peace process with Taliban
6. Human rights
7. Ethnic conflict

Importance of Afghanistan from India's point of view

1. Strategic location of Afghanistan is very important. Afghanistan is situated at crossroads between South Asia and Central Asia and South Asia and the Middle East.
2. Stable government in Kabul will not give safe heaven for terrorist activity that might reduce insurgency in Kashmir.
3. Afghanistan is a major partner in the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline project which will fulfill India's energy need.
4. Afghanistan is a gateway to the oil and mineral rich Central Asian republics.
5. The massive reconstruction plans for the country offer a lot of opportunities for Indian companies.
6. Afghanistan also has significant oil and gas reserves.
7. Afghanistan has rich source of rare earth materials.

China-Pakistan factor

A new official forum in Kabul the ‘China-Pakistan-Afghanistan Strategic Dialogue’ and its implications on India

– U.S exited from Afghanistan, China's engagement increases
– Reasons for China's growing engagement in Afghanistan

1. Regional Co-operation:

China announced some major commitments to promote regional cooperation. Beijing is to finance a 1500 MW hydro-electric power project in the Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan. To be managed jointly by Pakistan and Afghanistan and the project will feed into the power grids of both countries. Kunar is one of Afghanistan's most active battlefields, with deep valleys and forests near the Pakistan border providing cover for different factions of the Taliban.

2. Economical:

China will promote two important trans-border transport corridors—a motorway linking Kabul with Peshawar and a rail link between Quetta and Kandahar. These infrastructure projects nicely complement China’s ambitious Silk Road projects in inner Asia and its massive investments in developing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

3. Political:

Recent initiative to facilitate political reconciliation between the Afghan government in Kabul and the Taliban. To weaken Islamist militants that operate in the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang, which borders both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

4. Natural resources:

Afghanistan possesses copper, iron ore, gold, oil, gas, massive vein of rare earth elements including critical lithium (estimated $1 trillion dollars worth)

Reasons that might help China succeed

1. Friendly relationship with Pakistan might be helpful. If Pakistan had deliberately sabotaged American plans in Afghanistan, the Pakistan Army believes China might help it achieve its long standing objective of securing political primacy across the Durand Line. Also Afghanistan supports Chinese efforts that might keep Pakistani army in control.

2. Russia, which has mutual relations with China in recent years and is engaging in friendly talks with Pakistan, is likely to back Chinese leadership role in Afghanistan.

3. The U.S. Also wants some power to fill its shoes when it exits from war-torn country.

Role of India in rebuilding Afghanistan

1. India has funded some major Afghan reconstruction and development plans and has invested US$1.5 billion so far.

2. It has recently committed another US$500 million. The funds have been spent on building the 218 km-long Zaranj-Delaram road linking the Iranian border with the Garland Highway, electric power lines,hydroelectric power projects, school buildings, primary health centers.

3. The Salma Dam project in Herat, extraction of Hajigak iron ore in Bamiyan and construction of new building for the Afghan parliament are the major projects funded by India.

4. India is also training Afghan administrators, teachers and officer cadets, but only within India.

5. India signed an Agreement on Strategic Partnership with Afghanistan in October 2011.

6. India provides humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan

7. Many Afghan Students get scholarships from Indian universities.

Problems in India -Afghanistan relationship

1. Lack of geographical contiguity and limited access.

2. Pakistan’s continuing interference in Afghan affairs through proxies such as the Haqqani network

3. Pakistani army has had great impact in Afghanistan.

4. Security concerns of Indian nationals working for rebuilding of Afghanistan is a major issue

Iran Factor

Development of Chabahar port (Iran) will allow it to gain trading access to Afghanistan, bypassing Pakistan.

Istanbul Process

The Istanbul Process is a regional cooperation mechanism designed to support “a peaceful and stable Afghanistan.” Its 14 member countries are spread throughout Central and South Asia as well as the Middle East: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and the United Arab Emirates.
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