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Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

Pakistan will view

Pakistan will view enhanced assistance levels inany field as sufficient compensation for abandoningsupport for these groups, which it sees as animportant part of its national security apparatusagainst India.” She noted that burgeoning U.S.-India ties “[feed] Pakistani establishment paranoiaand pushes them closer to both Afghan andKashmir focused terrorist groups.” 22These revelationsalso made it clear thatBy giving the India had been systematicallytargeted by thePakistanis aleading role in the Pakistani security services.The bombing ofAfghan state, thethe Indian embassy inWest is sowing 2008 was at the behest ofthe seeds of the ISI, which also paidregional turmoil. the Haqqani terror networkto eliminate Indianworkers in Afghanistanand gave orders to orchestrate attacks on Indianconsulates there. 23 That the Pakistani securitycomplex had engendered targeting of Indianinterests in Afghanistan was hardly newsin New Delhi. But Indian policymakers have beendeeply dismayed by Washington’s reluctanceto counter Pakistan’s designs in Afghanistan.Though New Delhi continues to insist thatit will not retreat from Afghanistan, there are clearsigns that it is scaling down its presence. Almosthalf of the Indian personnel working onvarious projects have returned home; some Indianschemes have been put on hold, and theIndians are not taking on any new projects.Training programs for Afghan personnel are nowtaking place in India.INDIA DEBATESITS OPTIONSThe Indian government is debating its optionsin Afghanistan in a strategic space thatseems to have shrunk over the past few years.By failing to craft its own narrative on Afghanistanand Pakistan ever since U.S. troops wentinto Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11, New Delhihas allowed the West, and increasingly Pakistan,to dictate the contours of its policy toward theregion.Two major strands can be discerned in thepresent debate. On the one hand, there are thosewho maintain that despite the recent setbacks,New Delhi should continue to rely on Washingtonto secure its Afghanistan and Pakistan interests.24 In their opinion, there is a fundamentalconvergence between the Indian governmentand the Obama administration in viewing Pakistanas the source of Afghanistan’s insecurityand in believing that the world must act togetherto cure Islamabad of its political malaise. In identifyingthe borderlands between Pakistan andAfghanistan as the single most important threatto global peace and security, arguing thatIslamabad is part of the problem rather than thesolution, and asking India to join an internationalconcert in managing the Afghanistan-Pakistanregion, Washington has made significant departuresfrom its traditional posture toward SouthAsia. The Indians would, therefore, be bestserved by coordinating their counterterroriststrategy with the United States and should helpWashington by addressing Pakistan’s fears ofIndian meddling on its western frontiers, unfoundedas they might be; it has even been suggestedthat New Delhi should not hesitate toreach out to the Pakistani army. 25The other side of the debate is becomingimpatient with New Delhi’s continued relianceon Washington to pull its chestnuts out of thefire. According to this argument, a fundamentalschism has emerged between the U.S. and Indianpositions as the Obama administration hassystematically ignored Indian interests andsensibilities. 26 While actively discouraging ahigher Indian profile in Afghanistan for fear ofoffending Pakistan, the administration has failed22 The Guardian (London), Nov. 30, 2010.23 The Indian Express, July 27, 2010.24 Ibid., Mar. 3, 2010.25 Ibid., Jan. 27, 2010.26 The Tribune (Chandigarh), Aug. 19, 2010.36 / MIDDLE EAST QUARTERLY SPRING 2011

27 The Hindustan Times (New Delhi), Mar. 2010; BusinessStandard, Sept. 15, 2010.India’s extensive economic activity and investments inAfghanistan have played an important role in helping theflailing government of President Hamid Karzai (left), withIndian prime minister Mahmohan Singh, New Delhi, May2010, to retain and enhance its legitimacy by bringing theAfghan economy back on track.to persuade Islamabad to takeIndian concerns more seriously.Anxious for a semblance of victory,the West has decided tocourt the “good” Taliban withPakistan’s help, thus underscoringIslamabad’s centralityin the unfolding strategic dynamicin the region, much to theIndian government’s discomfiture.By pursuing a strategy thatwill give the Pakistanis the leadingrole in the nascent Afghanstate structures, the West, however,is only sowing the seedsof future regional turmoil. WhileWashington may have no vitalinterest in determining who actuallygoverns the country solong as Afghan territory is notused as a springboard for attackson American soil, NewDelhi most certainly does. TheTaliban—good or bad—arehostile to India in many fundamental ways. Theabandonment of the goal of establishing afunctioning Afghan state and a moderate Pakistanis liable to put a greater pressure onIndian security. 27India’s influence in Afghanistan rose significantlyas U.S. support for Pakistan waned inthe immediate wake of 9/11 and Washingtondemanded that Islamabad adopt policies longadvocated by the Indians. Moreover, Indiaemerged as a major economic actor in Afghanistantrying to bolster that state’s capacity invarious measures. But by refusing to use hardpower and asserting its profile more forcefully,New Delhi soon made itself irrelevant as the anti-Taliban campaign proved far more intractablethan expected, leading to a widening gap betweenthe strategic perceptions of the Indiangovernment and U.S administrations. The Obamaadministration, intent on moving out of Afghanistan,has managed to signal to India’s adversariesthat they can shape the post-American erato serve their own ends. New Delhi lost the trustof its own allies in Afghanistan: For if it wouldnot stand up for its own interests, few saw thebenefit of aligning with it. The Indian presencewhich looked formidable during the George W.Bush era began unraveling with the advent ofthe Obama administration, which deepened itssecurity dependence on Pakistan in the hope ofachieving rapid success.Moreover, Pakistan’s weak democracy andpowerful military and intelligence apparatus hasfailed to get a grip on the problem that nowthreatens to overwhelm the Pakistani state itself.The three-year extension granted to thePakistani army chief of staff Gen. Ashfaq ParvezKayani will ensure that a return to meaningfuldemocracy will continue to elude Pakistan andthat the army’s inflexible India-centric securityperception will render rapprochement with NewDelhi a nonstarter. Kayani is also clear about hisdetermination to call the shots in Kabul. He remainswedded to the notion of “strategicdepth”—that is, to making Afghanistan the kindPant: India’s Afghan Policy / 37

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