In terms of development & economic co-operation, India has played a prominent role in Afghanistan, however, in case of security forces co-operation, India's approach has been rather restrained. Discuss.

India and Afghanistan have a strong relationship, in fact, the importance of India from Afghanistan perspective can be seen from the fact that Afghanistan signed its first strategic pact with India, in 2011. The Strategic Partnership Agreement, apart from development and economic co-operation, explicitly mentioned for security cooperation, including the transfer of military equipment.
Though India participated actively in developmental projects such as dams, construction of Parliament, however, India’s response has been limited in terms of engagement on the security front. The reasons for the limited role are:

  • India does not want to strengthen security cooperation with Afghanistan as that may antagonize Pakistan. Pakistan’s hostility towards India’s role can be seen from Pakistan’s PM (Mr. Shahid Khaqan) statement in UN that Pakistan does not want India to play any political, economic or military role in Afghanistan.
  • Geography is the another reason behind India’s limited role in terms of security cooperation. The geographic limitation has imposed substantial limitations on India’s military role in Afghanistan.
  • Another reason is the USA. America in the past was not willing to allow larger Indian security footprint in Afghanistan as it would have created the problem for Pakistan’s political establishments. However, the New Afghanistan Policy of USA supports India’s greater role in Afghanistan. Apart from that the policy also emphasized that Pakistan should end its support to terror groups who are involved in destabilization of Afghanistan.

Afghanistan forces alone are not capable of handling terror groups and without external military support to the security forces and government, the entire agenda of development would be futile. Stability and security are pre-requisite for development. In fact, the stability in Afghanistan is also vital for India’s northwestern frontiers.
India as a regional power and aspiring global power need to play a larger role in the stability and development of Afghanistan. A greater Indian role along with active support from the USA will have a long-term impact on the regional stability.


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