India's role in Afghanistan
Posted on 11 months ago
As the Northern Alliance of Afghan minorities rode into Kabul on the American tanks to occupy positions of authority and power in the occupied Afghanistan under the satrapy of American intelligence agency CIA, India came astride on the shoulders of this alliance to embed and entrench there. In the civil strife prior to this US-led invasion and occupation, India had militarily sided with the Northern Alliance against the predominantly Pakhtun Taliban.
The alliance returned the compliment in good measure by affording India all the opportunities to carve out a crucial place in the occupied Afghanistan, albeit with the full blessings of the American occupiers, the CIA in particular that had even embraced the premier Indian intelligence agency RAW warmly. Apart from handing over lucrative development projects to India, the new Afghan power players berthed it militarily as well in the country quite powerfully.
Quite early after the occupation, the Indian paramilitary force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, specialising in espionage and subversion and sabotage, was allowed in Afghanistan in strength under the pretext of giving security cover to the Indian diplomatic posts and the Indian development projects there. But the paramilitary was deployed in areas in close proximity of Pakistan. At one time, there was even a feverish talk of the deployment of two fully-fledged Indian army divisions in Afghanistan.
But the perceptive minds in the Indian establishment dissuaded the New Delhi decision-makers away from the contemplated adventure. Their plea was that the Indian army would get stuck up in the likely Afghan marsh and would return home more badly mauled than the Indian peacekeeping military force in Sri Lanka that had retreated from there after two-and-a-half years' debacle in utter humiliation.
Over the time, the collusion between the American, Afghan and Indian militarists against Pakistan has nonetheless roasted it on the spit terribly. By teaming up, America's CIA, its Afghan subsidiary, National Directorate of Security (NDS), and India's RAW have deeply infested Pakistan's underbelly of tribal areas and its strategically very sensitive Balochistan province, softening them up for their ulterior objectives.
Not long ago, a former NDS chief, Amrullah Saleh openly bragged that his agency had penetrated Pakistan's tribal areas very thickly. Indeed, by the mid-2010s the axis of CIA-NDS-RAW had, by every reckoning, palpably elbowed out the Pakistani intelligence agencies from the tribal region.
And during its pacification operations in Swat and Bajaur, South Waziristan and the other tribal agencies, the Pakistani military did stumble on incriminating evidence of the axis's complicity with the militants, although it is shocking that the Islamabad hierarchy has failed spectacularly in drawing the world attention to this anti-Pakistan hostile activity. As indeed has this inept hierarchy in bringing to the limelight the fact of Afghanistan having become the nerve centre of raging insurgency in Balochistan.
The political pundits and diplomatic observers are likely to read Panetta's pronouncement as yet another ploy to twist Pakistan's arm into reopening the blocked NATO land supply routes on its territory. This may be. But the American wish for greater India's role in Afghanistan goes far deeper. Indeed, outgoing US military chief Mike Mullen had once outspokenly declared in Kabul at a press conference that "India has a military role in Afghanistan".
And while the Americans had been keeping Pakistan out of the loop of even their now-collapsed peace negotiations with Taliban, they had nudged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign on to a strategic partnership pact with India. That agreement has formalised the training of Afghan military and police personnel in the Indian military academies and training centres, which in any case had long been going on even otherwise.
Indeed, Panetta has not said anything new. This American wish for India's prominent role in Afghanistan has always been there. And it has also been in the works. And the Islamabad hierarchy would be stupid if it doesn't come alive to it even now. It must bear in mind fully what a former US national security advisor, James Jones, had once famously said: India's role in Afghanistan is excellent; Pakistan's quite blemished. That should tell the Islamabad hierarchy where does sit India and where does Pakistan in the calculus of its American buddies.
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