India – The Spoiler Element in Afghan Peace Process

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As the decade and half long war waged in the name of combating terrorism in Afghanistan, spearheaded by the US falls short of fully realizing the objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the threat of ISIS looms large over the war-torn, landlocked country, some major developments have surfaced, arguably for the larger benefit of Afghanistan.

First, Afghanistan’s top envoy to Pakistan has been reported as saying Kabul is ready for unconditional talks with Taliban insurgents. This important breakthrough comes on the heels of three-nation Afghan peace talks held in Moscow. Thus, this new troika consisting of Pakistan, Russia and China, with prospective inclusion of other regional states like Iran, which has already expressed its willingness to join the group, is another vital shift in the strategy to improve the security situation in Afghanistan,

With the due withdrawal of US troops and its growing indifference towards the volatile situation in Afghanistan, mainly attributed to the preoccupation with power transition in US, there was a conspicuous vacuum to be filled and laps in the efforts to be reinvigorated for stabilizing Afghanistan. Though there is no dearth of forums dedicated solely for charting out future strategy for restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan, such forums failed to yield desired objectives due to multiple reasons. For instance, the Quadrilateral Cooperation Group established to facilitate peace talks between Afghan Taliban and Kabul was beset by various factors including but not limited to the killing of Taliban Leader Mullah Akhter Mansoor in a US drone strike. Lack of flexible approach and trust deficit characterized the Afghan peace negotiations held up till now. Last but not least, conflict of interests of states involved in the New Great Game in Afghanistan and Central Asia was yet another factor that seriously undermined peace initiatives for Afghanistan.

Pakistan assumes centrality when it comes to Afghan peace process due to socio-political, cultural, demographic and geographic interconnectedness. Ironically, the same has often proved to be a burden instead of blessing due to the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and the evil games played on Afghan landscape by competing forces inimical to Pakistan. Pakistan has been bearing the brunt of this war for decades now and it is the raison d’être of Pakistan’s sincere efforts for restoring peace and stability in Afghanistan because it realizes peace and stability in Afghanistan is inevitable for peace and stability in Pakistan and vice-versa.

But Pakistan’s arch rival India which eyes on the status of a regional hegemon misconstrues Pakistan’s centrality in Afghan peace initiatives as a strategic blow to Indian interests. This is partly attributable to India’s tendency to interpret Pakistan-China friendship in purely security terms. To put it differently, India’s response to Pakistan-China cooperation is shaped by its strategic-culture that is marked with fear and distrust of the two. Moreover, India is also wary of Russia’s increasing friendly overtures to Pakistan. For instance, rejection of Indian allegations directed at Pakistan by Russian representative Zamir Kablov at Heart of Asia conference was eye-opener for India. Thus, any potential machination by anxious India to thwart the newly emerging dialogue forum aimed at reviving Afghan peace process cannot be ruled out.

Modi’s aim of isolating Pakistan in the region has led him to resort to every kind of propaganda against Pakistan. Since India deeply resents Pakistan’s role as a mediator and facilitator of peace talks between Kabul and Afghan Taliban, it has always accused Pakistan of fomenting insurgency in Afghanistan which is not only absurd but malicious. The matter of fact is that it is India that has fueled and abetted terrorism in the region by undermining peace initiatives and unleashing a reign of terror in Indian Occupied Kashmir and pushing oppressed Kashmiris towards terrorists’ camps, in the absence of any hope of justice.

It requires a dispassionate analysis to ascertain the linkage between socio-political marginalization and terrorism. Terrorist organizations, like Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent usually abbreviated as AQIS seek to establish bases in the Indian sub-continent lie in wait for opportunities to spread their tentacles. Indian Occupied Kashmir that has witness unprecedented human rights violations provide the requisite fertile ground for such groups to thrive on by recruiting oppressed and disgruntled people. Likewise, in Myanmar where the state-less and homeless Rohingya Muslims are brutalized by the government amidst deafening silence of human rights organizations presents similar situation for terrorists to exploit. The point of highlighting these issues here is for leaders in general and Indian leaders in particular to realize that no amount of baseless allegations against Pakistan and blame game will ameliorate deteriorating security situation in the region, rather it only diverts attention away from pressing issues at hand which need immediate attention.

Finally, it is imperative for all the stake holders involved in Afghanistan quagmire to keep the ideals of peace and harmony top-most priorities and do not be swayed by parochial, imperialist ambitions that have resulted in the death and destruction of humanity as a whole.

Zarpash Mughal is an undergraduate student at Bahria University Islamabad perusing her Bachelors in International Relations. She can be reached @ZarpashMughal

Discussion1 Comment

  1. The legacy of British Empire haunts Central, West and South Asia.

    I have always said India has NO legitimate stake in Afghanistan and is imposing itself through proxy no different to US.

    Pakistan whether India or certain remnants of Northern Alliance in the current Afghan government like it has a legitimate historic, cultural, ethnic, linguistic, geographic undeniable bond with Afghanistan.

    India can not deny the indigenous Pashtun voice in Afghanistan and allow Afghanistan and the region be held hostage to Northern Alliance politics. One knows why as the Northern Alliance could unarguably be labelled an Indian proxy during the civil war with the Pashtun led Taliban throughout the 90s.

    With all this said…

    Asia MUST come together and India is an undeniably important Asiatic power. An integrated Asia without the residue of a bygone British Empire needs to be come a reality.

    Afghabistan must not fail and holds the key to an integrated Asia.

    All this rests on Indian and Pakistani relationships. The RSS right wing exteemist hate politics and extremist Islamic ideology must be shed. One represents the legacy of the politics of divide and conquer implemented by the East India company that snowballed into the British Indian Empire. The latter represents the reaction or consequence of these divisional politics used as instruments to fight the cold war between the US and the Soviets.

    Both represents a bygone era that DOES NOT represent a cohesive, integrated.

    Asia holds the key to centuries of prosperity if it were to achieve peaceful reconcilliatory politics free from the shackles of imperialist politics.

    To India I say, embrace peace in Afghanistan and stop pursuing sectarian violence and destabilisation of Pakistan. This will in turn stop Pakistan interference politics in Afghanistan.

    Furthermore as a Kashmiri I write that Kashmir can benefit from both India and Pakistan but each should not use Kashmir as a proxy ground.

    If India and Pakistan were to come together it would bring peace to the region and accelerate economic prosperity.

    India must recognise Pakistan has legitimate stake in key regions like central Asia and in similar fashion India has stake in SE Asia.

    An integrated Asia can be a new dawn of a new economic age, or the new version of the European industrial revolution.

    Think who benefits from Indian and Pakistani disunity?

    Very nations who were responsible for the East India Company and the cold war.

    Russia unlike Europe and US also has a legitimate stake in a stable prosperous Asia as does China.

    Asia belongs to Asian nations. A strong Asiatic trading block must have cordial relationships with other important trading blocks like Europe and Americas.

    It really is that simple.

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