Afghanistan India Strategic Partnership and Pakistan
‘Operation Enduring Freedom’ started in Afghanistan by US and NATO forces in October 2001 to eradicate the threat of terrorism and to remove the Taliban regime from Kabul, gave India an opportunity to reactivate its diplomatic channels in Afghanistan.
After the fall of Kandahar Government of Taliban, India re opened its Embassy in Kabul which was closed during the Taliban regime in 1996-97. India joined international community in Global War on Terrorism GWOT in Afghanistan. It provided intelligence information to the Allied Forces operating in Afghanistan by virtue of its previous links with Afghanistan Intelligence Agency KHAD, which it had developed during Soviet backed regimes in Afghanistan.
Even during the Taliban regime in Kabul, India maintained its close links and support to the Northern Alliance. India joined international community efforts made in Afghanistan for rebuilding and reconstruction of Afghanistan. It considered it a golden chance to pursue its strategic goals in South and Central Asia. However it applied a very cautious approach and did not put its boots on ground rather played a soft power role in rebuilding Afghanistan.
India has pledged $2 billion in Afghanistan since 2001 in reconstruction, developments, capacity building and skill enhancements of the Afghan people. India has assumed the role of largest regional donor in Afghanistan and 5th largest among the world states involved in reconstruction of Afghanistan (Ministry of External Affairs, 2013).
The main areas of focus for India in Afghanistan were in Infrastructure Development, Capacity Building, Local Government System, Women Empowerment, Agriculture and Irrigation, Education Sector, Economic Development, Security sector, Hydroelectric, Political and Cultural links, Mining and Hydrocarbons.
India adopted a carefully carved out approach by investing in long term projects in Afghanistan which were directed towards the people of Afghanistan and avoided any military and security footprints in the area. The main focus of the Indian investment and cooperation remained the economic sector and welfare projects for the people of Afghanistan. India made progress in major developmental works in post war reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.
It took no time to involve itself in Afghanistan scenario to regain the strategic interest, it lost in 1990’s due civil war and rise of Taliban. Major focus remained on accessibility to Afghanistan economy along with regional access to Central Asian Republics. On the other front India recommended and ultimately brought Afghanistan in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
It not only enhanced Indian image as a regional power in South Asia but was also able to bring Afghanistan in line with its own regional and international goals and objectives, as Afghanistan supported Indian long standing desire of permanent seat in United Nations Security council (UNSC) in 2011 Strategic Partnership Agreement.
On October 04, 2011 Afghanistan and India signed a strategic partnership Agreement in New Delhi in commemoration of the Treaty of Friendship of 1950 between Government of India and Royal Government of Afghanistan.
The two sides also affirmed their support in the field of national and regional security, to be led by the National Security Advisors (NSA) of both countries in order to further strengthen and enhance the security issues so as to bring peace and security in Afghanistan and in South Asia.
The agreement further intended to enhance the strategic security cooperation in field of international terrorism, organized crime, money laundering and illegal narcotics trafficking. Another important aspect of the said agreement was professional training of Afghanistan National Security Forces along with capacity building and equipping with arms and ammunitions.
Pakistan an immediate neighbour of Afghanistan with which its strategic security is intrincibly linked was watching the whole scenario minutely. On the face of it Afghanistan India strategic partnership was aimed at enhancing the bilateral ties between the two states. How ever Pakistan has its own reservations about excessive Indian involvement in Afghanistan.
The point of main concern for Pakistan remained the military and strategic collaboration between the two Armed Forces in which India is training the Afghan Army officers in Indian Military Academy and the Afghan premier National Directorate of Security NDS officers in Indian Intelligence Academies.
Pakistan is concerned about the clandestine activities of the Indian consulates in the eastern Afghanistan region bordering Pakistan. Pakistan has been raising the issue of increased Indian activities on its western borders along Afghanistan and has repeatedly apprised the Afghanistan government as well as the world community about such activities.
Pakistan apprehends that India wants to sandwich Pakistan from east and west and at the same time wants to engage Pakistan Army in a deadly war on terrorism sponsored by the Indian intelligence agency RAW. By keeping the Pakistan - Afghanistan relations sour India wants to cut Pakistan access to Afghanistan and as well as to the Central Asian Republic States.