Daily Answer Writing
16 April 2021

Que) The withdrawal of the US troops from Afghanistan would throw new strategic challenges. How can India reorient its policy on Afghanistan to serve its interests? (250 Words)

Source <https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/editorials/caution-on-kabul-kabul-afghanistan-george-w-bush-7275447/>
GS 2: IR

Approach Answer:

Introduction: The US President Joe Biden has recently announced to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This comes in the backdrop of the on-going peace process talks between Afghanistan Government, Taliban and regional and global powers, of which India is a part too.


Challenges that India could face:

               1. Against Indian Policy on terror: India is a reluctant supporter of the “intra-Afghan talks” between the Taliban and Afghan government.

               2. Terror Infra against India: Another concern would be India-focused militants such as Laskhar- e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohamed, which the Indian security establishment already believes to have relocated in large numbers to Afghanistan.

               3. Protecting Indian investment in Afghanistan: India has invested heavily in major projects like various hydropower projects(Salma Dam), connectivity projects(road from Daleram to Zaranj) etc.

               4. Diplomatic Challenge: Afghanistan is a key nation which can give India a strategic advantage over Pakistan. Power with Taliban is not in the interest of India.

               5. Geo-strategic Challenge: Afghanistan lies at the cross-road of civilizations. China wants join Afghanistan in its Belt and Road Project. India and Russia are keen on connecting it with North-South Economic corridor. India is also pushing TAPI pipeline.

               6. Narco-terrorism: Afghanistan forms a part of Golden crescent and is a source of drugs that infiltrate illegally into India.


In this regard India has outlined a four-pronged Policy:

               1. Afghan-led and Afghan-owned Process: That is the talks must be led by the Afghan government.

               2. Zero tolerance for terrorism: The negotiations shall not be on terrorism but on development

               3. Gains of the last two decades cannot be lost: For example rights of women and minorities need to be strongly protected. Further, India has invested heavily in various Infrastructure projects in the region, for example - Zaranj Delaram Highway, Afghan Parliament etc.

               4. The transit rights of Afghanistan should not be used by countries “to extract political price from Afghanistan”.


Possible Policy response from India for the future:

               1. Mobilizing International support: There is a high desertion rate in the security forces, infrastructure deficit and poor fiscal situation. India must help Afghanistan by rallying for resources for it.

               2. Enhancing infrastructure:  The infrastructure projects built by India must be meaningful and address its critical demands. For example Lalandar Shahtoot dam, and Zaranj Daleram road must be completed early

               3. Increasing soft power: India has hosted Afghan sports such as providing infrastructure for Afghan National Cricket team. Such efforts must continue.

               4. Non indulgence in local politics: In the on-going peace process, India's aim must be to help Afghanistan reach to a Peaceful resolution instead of indulging in local politics.

               5. Defense support: such as Training Afghan Army is vital for the survival of the forces. India must persuade US to increase the funding support for the Afghans upon withdrawal of forces.

               6. Supporting Democracy: It is in the interest of India to support Democratic government.

Conclusion: India has earned goodwill cutting across Afghanistan’s geographies and ethnicities. Instead of indulging in local politics, it has supported institution building and shown that its interests coincide with the idea of a stable, secure, independent and peaceful Afghanistan. What is needed is more active and coordinated diplomacy, official and non-official, so that India remains at the table as Afghanistan’s preferred development partner through its transition.


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