Friday, June 11, 2010

US/NATO exit from Afghanistan Spells Danger for India

The Hindu editorialized a few days ago that the only answer in Afghanistan is for the US and other NATO troops to leave. The paper has been pushing the line that a conference must be held where all parties will promise not to interfere in Afghanistan's internal affairs and peace will thus be restored. Most readers will probably realize that this is just another pacifist pipedream. It needs no repetition that Pakistan's promises cannot be taken seriously particularly when proxies are in abundant supply to faithfully carry out its wishes. Pakistan's willingness to utilize them is also not in doubt and with foreign troops gone and no one to enforce such promises, it should be obvious that the altered political scenario will quickly render such conference pronouncements worthless. The US may have less to fear from such an eventuality given that Pakistan has long been willing to extend guarantees to use its influence with the Taliban to prevent any attack upon it but India of course will receive no such guarantee and with a resurgent Taliban under Pakistani influence, it has much cause for concern. By blindly echoing American liberals, The Hindu's views thus dovetail very well with Pakistani strategy but offer little succour for Indian interests in the region.

Today the NYT reports that Karzai is losing faith in the ability of foreign troops to sustain his government and doubts their resolve and willingness to stay. India has to take note of it in deciding how to hedge its bets as the situation evolves. Though Obama has proclaimed that a withdrawal will begin in 2011, the seriousness of this proposal is in some doubt given previous pronouncements of officials of his cabinet. One thing is however quite clear: India's difficulties will multiply very quickly were the US/NATO troops to leave precipitously. Pakistan's jihadi network has had an important role in protecting and aiding the senior Taliban leadership during their most difficult years in the political wilderness. Whatever else may be said of the senior Taliban leadership, there is little doubt that these are men of honor who value loyalty and camaraderie more than anything else and any carrots that India may be belatedly able to offer them in terms of financial aid or expert assistance to counteract it may not hold much appetite for them. American withdrawal may thus be expected to quickly restore the pre-9/11 situation which means a renewed and resurgent terrorist onslaught against not just Kashmir but all of India. The difference will be that this time, apart from a fresh crop of battle hardened fighters to train and guide insurgents, there will also be the added motivation that having overcome the world's mightiest nation, defeating India would not be an impossible task.

India has much at stake and a lot of reasons to persuade the US and its alllies not to leave Afghanistan any time soon. If India's left has its way, we may be inviting trouble more quickly than we realize.


Xinhua Ram said...

I suggest that we raise a Gurkha regiment from India and Nepal and send them to assist NATO forces (not as Indian soldiers, though). The British Army is estimated to have 100,000 Gurkha soldiers.

cbcnn_Pilid said...


Raising a regiment cannot be kept a secret because of size and nature of the task. India might as well just send troops to Afghanistan as some commentators have suggested but I don't think the GoI is too keen on it. Additionally, I don't think the Americans will support the idea because of the fear that it will raise temperatures there. So, the present stance of the govt. of restricting its role to training Afghan forces and offering various forms of civilian assistance may be expected to continue.

B Shantanu said...

Pilid, I have been worrying about this for almost a year now..
Sadly not much has changed.

cbcnn_Pilid said...


Nice post. At some point, 'life moves on' philosophy would have to give way to something more aggressive but that probably is not very easy to explain to your daughter!

B Shantanu said...

Indeed...I may have to wait a few more years!

Water Engineer said...

First off Chennai-Based Chinese National Newspaper is a misnomer. It is Pakistani National paper based in Chennai.

Abrupt wirhdrawl of Nato from Afghanistan would be disaster for India. Many jihadis will turn on India.