Jan Achakzai |
The Trump Administration’s new strategy in Afghanistan envisaging partnership with India will likely raise security concerns for Pakistan.
The US strategy anchored on Indian partnership, has caused Washington the loss of a willing peace partner in Afghanistan—Pakistan. Fasten your belts for a new unstable region
Islamabad has already accused India of financing and sponsoring anti-Pakistan militant groups, using Afghan territory and hence constantly boiling its western border. Pakistan with its long porous border with Afghanistan has rightly been worried about security and stability in that country. Islamabad’s development and security has been hampered by civil wars and weak central government in Afghanistan over the decades.
Whether Trump administration practically encourages India to play a big role in Afghanistan or not, New Delhi has got golden opportunity to proactively exploit this offer. India will enormously expand its role in diplomatic, economic and security areas. Growing strategic links between Kabul and New Delhi have already set forth the contours of “India First” policy in Afghanistan.
The new strategy brandishing to Pakistan to follow the interests of the US, by extension of the India in Afghanistan than its own interests, is still a moot point
The defense cooperation between the two countries in personnel and hardware will likely further increase. Over 4000 Afghan officers have so far been trained in India and almost 2000 officers are undergoing training currently in Indian security institutions including intelligence. India has become the major supplier of arms, both light and heavy (including sophisticated Mi-25 attack helicopters) to Afghan forces after the US. Now India will enhance intelligence cooperation as well.
The Trump administration has also practically declared it will no longer be able to meaningfully assuage Pakistan’s concerns on India-Afghanistan growing strategic relations, hence the ceiling on such cooperation stands removed and Islamabad’s security red-line is crossed.
The Trump administration has also practically declared it will no longer be able to meaningfully assuage Pakistan’s concerns on India-Afghanistan’s growing strategic relations
Like other small countries in South Asia, India does not offer free lunches to its smaller neighbors in geopolitics. “Indian First” is the standard pre-condition of India on its bilateral strategic relations with these smaller South Asian countries (except Pakistan). New Delhi has been achieving this goal through coercion over decades, but now through cooperation with the arrival of new power, China in South Asia.
Almost “India-First” policy of Kabul government in its strategic affairs and the prospect of India leading the new geopolitical order in West Asia as envisaged by the Trump administration is the nightmare and a scenario Pakistan has been dreading. Policy makers in Islamabad will definitely respond with full energies (diplomatic, economic, security and intelligence) to increase cost for India in Afghanistan.
Over 4000 Afghan officers have so far been trained in India and almost 2000 officers are undergoing training currently in Indian security institutions including intelligence
Ironically, as the US will be arm-twisting Pakistan to cut off ties with the Afghan Taliban, the antithesis of India-centric West Asia strategy may force Islamabad to enhance its equities in Afghanistan to contain Indian strategic stranglehold. Practically it means Pakistan’s goal will change from reconciliation to dismantling India-led geopolitical order in West Asia so as to prevent boiling western border.
Whether the policy i.e. brandishing Pakistan to follow the interests of the US rather than its own interests will work is still a moot point.
But what is certain is that the US strategy anchored on Indian partnership has caused Washington the loss of a willing peace partner in Afghanistan—Pakistan. Fasten your belts for a new unstable region.
Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a party leader in the ruling PML-N party, and advisor to Balochistan Government on media and strategic communication. He remained associated BBC World Service in London covering South and West Asia. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.