Turmoil in Afghanistan and India’s Calibrated Steps

Afghan Children

As the dust settles on the erstwhile Kingdom of Gandhara, the attention shifts from the ongoing evacuation and the so-called American blunder, to ‘what next?’. Distant nations in the European Union and the Middle East are on guard as it falls in their circle of concern.

However, India, Russia, Iran, China, and Pakistan know that it falls in their circle of influence. It is easy to delve into the past or talk about the present, but crystal gazing into the future is very tough, especially when one is dealing with an entity as unstable as the Taliban.

While the other nations’ strategists must be drawing up their roadmap for Afghanistan, what are India’s options, and what should be India’s objectives in the region?

To frame the future objectives, one must first examine the past and present objectives and see how relevant they are in today’s context. India has been heavily involved in Afghanistan’s nation-building and humanitarian assistance. India has invested over US $3 billion in more than 400 infrastructure projects in the past 20 years. Some of the important Indian undertakings are:

  • Afghan Parliament building: US $ 90 million
  • India-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement
    • Trade
    • Economic Assistance
    • Scientific Assistance
    • Technological Cooperation
    • Duty-free access to the Indian market
  • 218 km Zaranj-Delaram highway
  • Salma Dam
  • Power projects and power transmission lines
  • Indira Gandhi Institute, the largest pediatric hospital in Afghanistan
  • Healthcare centers in Badakhshan, Balkh, Kandahar, Khost, Kunar, Nangarhar, Nimruz, Nooristan, Paktia, and Paktika
  • 1000 civilian and military vehicles
  • Proposed membership of International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)

From the foregoing, it is amply evident that India has lived up to its ancient connection with Afghanistan and provided the best possible assistance to the ravaged Bactrian province. Therefore, India should aim for the following objectives in Afghanistan:

  • Not to recognize the Taliban regime but keep the communication going
  • Connect with Northern Alliance and other stakeholders
  • Dialogue with Russia and Iran
  • Monitor Chinese, Pakistani, Terrorism and ISI’s drug money
  • Continue with infrastructure projects
  • Assist in healthcare projects
  • Prepare for an onslaught of propaganda warfare from China, Pakistan, and the Taliban
  • Activate Gissar and Farkhor bases in Tajikistan

I bring out a detailed analysis of India’s options in the Central Asian Region (CAR) and Afghanistan, on India’s leading think-tank organization ‘Chanakya Forum’:

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