Home South Asia India India’s long game revealed & omens are bad for Pakistan

India’s long game revealed & omens are bad for Pakistan

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Jan Achakzai |

While faced with new costs and opportunities for engaging major stakeholders on Afghan reconciliation, Pakistan should not ignore or underestimate India’s spoiling capacity to harm its interests, and its destabilizing role in Afghanistan and the region. That India is playing its negative role, is not a matter of conjecture or over-reaction.

Being the whipping boy, Pakistan has been the victim of a systematic narrative of India (what it called its isolating Pakistan Policy) that Islamabad is a sponsor of terrorism in Afghanistan. The US also joined the Indian bandwagon in demonizing and sanctioning Islamabad for not fighting the US War, after Washington honed its FP vision on Delhi’s deeply populated propaganda against Pakistan.

Earlier, when Pakistan announced Saudi Arabia to be part of CPEC, it was not China which objected, but Delhi quietly discouraging Riyadh to stay away from CPEC focused investment.

Ironically, the once rock-bottom bilateral US-Pakistan relations, are now fast becoming anachronism given the current US efforts to seek Pakistan’s strategic cooperation on Afghan reconciliation; such is the urgency in Washington that many interlocutors tended to offer incentives and beseeched Pakistan for its cooperation on Afghanistan. The US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and other US/NATO military officials, including CENTCOM Chief Gen Joseph Votel, camped at the US Embassy Islamabad for several days to get an opportunity to speak to the Taliban and the Haqqani group, which Washington had previously dubbed as a terrorist group.

However, if we dive into the logic of events, a discernible pattern emerges, proving behind-the-scene Indian hands aimed to undermine Pakistan’s efforts encompassing its foreign, energy, economic and defense diplomacy.

India employed its lobbying prowess to persuade Washington not to incentivize Pakistan meaningfully in return for its services in Afghanistan. Sources said that State Department officials who were debating to offer major incentives to Islamabad got told off when they suggested one particular measure: to leverage US influence with India for entering into a substantive dialogue on Kashmeer.

Read more: India’s sabotaging acts in Pakistan – Zafar Nawaz Jaspal

The US would not have brushed aside Pakistani concerns over LOC violations (raised with the view to focus on Afghan front), had Delhi not egged it on. Only concrete incentives offered to Pakistan were, i.e., help with IMF and some access to the US market for its products, during a visit of the influential US Senator Lindsay Graham to Islamabad; these offers, though, are nothing but peanuts from Islamabad’s point of view.

Delhi is also actively pursuing an agenda to nudge its allies, including Russia, and various western countries not to supply weapons to Pakistan at this juncture. Secondly, it was a result of India’s subtle pressure that Russia had to rebrand Moscow’s investment as not intended for CPEC but as an investment in Pakistan’s energy sector, so as to avoid offending Delhi vis-a-vis the mega-project (CPEC) which it opposes tooth and nail.

Such a narrative is only a recipe for chaos, instability and more infighting in Afghanistan regardless of whether this propaganda finds any traction within Afghanistan.

India has also sought to lobby major GCC countries not to invest in Pakistan’s CPEC project. Earlier, when Pakistan announced Saudi Arabia to be part of CPEC, it was not China which objected, but Delhi quietly discouraging Riyadh to stay away from CPEC focused investment. Hence Saudis had to eschew using the differentiated identity of word “CPEC” and clearly a signposting investment in refinery and minerals projects.

In order to promote its political and strategic goals, India’s RAW has cultivated clandestine relations with the Taliban and created its own proxy so as to decrease Pakistan’s influence on the Taliban, notwithstanding, India’s earlier support for the Taliban’s opponents, the Northern Alliance.

While Islamabad is actively working with the US to bring the Taliban to negotiating table, unfortunately, India has made sure Afghanistan remains a bad bargain for Pakistan ever since it “financed Pakistani troubles” via Afghan soil, to quote Check Hagel, the then US Defence Secretary.

Read more: India continues downplaying Pakistan’s counter-terror efforts

India’s sponsorship of the TTP has been proven by the evidence of high-profile individuals like Latif Masood and Ahsanullah Ahsan who testified about Delhi’s active support for Pakistan focused terrorist group using Afghanistan as a sanctuary to destabilize its smaller South Asian neighbor.

The best-cultivated proxy of India is BLA which attacked Chinese interests in Pakistan recently. It is being operated from Afghanistan and Delhi by RAW, as proven by the presence of Commander Acho, the mastermind of the attack on Chinese Consulate in Karachi last year, in Kandahar, and his frequent visits to the Indian capital.

Islamabad paid a heavy price for its help to Washington against Al Qaeda, in stabilizing post- 2001 Afghanistan. In the aftermath of the Taliban regime’s collapse: Pakistan’s economy suffered; terrorism became a clandestine monster threatening its very national security, and its road networks deteriorated due to the US using GLOC. The GLOC and ALOC are being used for the small component of NATO forces even today and that is free of charge.

As Pakistan is trying to use its multiple leverages on the Afghan front to facilitate the intra-Afghan dialogue and inter-Taliban/ US parleys, and the rest of stakeholders under-appreciate, Islamabad will ignore India’s destabilizing role at its own peril.

India has cunningly influenced Kabul government to woo it away from Pak-Afghan transit trade and persuaded it to circumvent Karachi, through Chabahar Port, (Though Pakistan can woo back Afghanistan by integrating Afghan government and society into the CPEC as Islamabad’s train and road connectivity infrastructure will bridge both countries with each other at a much cheaper cost to Kabul with the ports of Gawadar and Karachi). Pakistan‘s potential loss due to Indian move is going to be around $2.5 billion worth of transit trade.

Last but not the least, India’s strategic community is robustly spearheading a campaign to exaggerate the imaginary specter of Afghanistan descending into a radical Islamic state if the US and Taliban’s negotiations succeed, thereby scaring non-Taliban Afghans to block any possible reintegration of the Taliban through a political settlement. Such a narrative is only a recipe for chaos, instability and more infighting in Afghanistan regardless of whether this propaganda finds any traction within Afghanistan.

Read more: Are Indian fears about CPEC related to Kashmir issue?

Therefore, Islamabad’s Afghan calculus has ruled out any role for India in Afghanistan due to Delhi’s zero-sum competitive modus operandi and its eagerness to exploit every opportunity to undermine Pakistan’s legitimate security, political and economic interests in Afghanistan and further beyond.

As Pakistan is trying to use its multiple leverages on the Afghan front to facilitate the intra-Afghan dialogue and inter-Taliban/ US parleys, and the rest of stakeholders under-appreciate, Islamabad will ignore India’s destabilizing role at its own peril.

Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst and a politician. He served as an advisor to previous Balochistan Government on media and strategic communication. He remained associated with 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


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1 COMMENT

  1. Pakistan should never act as sole guarater in USA Taliban final agreement. KSA, UAE, Qatar, Russia, China, Iran must play role for final settlement between USA and Taliban.
    Afghanistan would face big destabilization after USA exit.

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