Is India being ignored by Afghanistan?
By Shree Shubham
| Saturday, August 1, 2015 - 09:41
There is rumor in the world media that Afghanistan is ignoring India and Ghani- Abdullah government is shifting its regional foreign relations. As reported, the top priority now is Pakistan and China.
The main thrust behind this new improvement is Ghani. Ghani has downsized contacts with India to win the trust of Islamabad. It is said that this new outside relations technique is seen basic by the Abdullah camp. They apprehension to get outflanked by a solidified Pakistan-Pashtun camp.
To some extent by the matter of fact, it seems that India is being ignored and sidelined. The moment Ashraf Ghani become the President of Afghanistan in September 2014, he planned his first visit to Beijing in the month of October and his second visit to Pakistan in November and thereafter to UK, US, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Germany and Iran. And finally on April 27, 2015, he made his first visit to India which was not too late in diplomacy but late in declared close relation.
What are the problems faced by Ashraf Ghani?
The basic problem with Ghani is the governance itself.
This presidential election was of first in nature which includes a runoff, means once no candidate get 50% vote and above, there is condition of second round voting.
Second round voting brought the majority of Ashgraf Ghani with 56% vote but questions were raised on its transparency which brought deadlock. After meddling of US and other Western power, a new type of governance was introduced which is not constitutional. This new governance was in the form of Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Abdullah was made CEO with some power only to console him.
How power will be shared and how unanimity will be build up on any particular issue is a matter of concern. Force sharing between the President and the CEO has not happened prompting strains inside of the political framework and deferring bureau development and essential managerial arrangements
The present political framework in Afghanistan, even though working for the time being, is fragile.
It took seven month for the new government to formulate its cabinet of ministers, and the important portfolio of Defence Minister yet to be fulfilled.
After 2004, when Afghanistan got some stability and people got freedom to think and analyses, a divide is created among the Afghan. 40% of population which resides in the centre of country wants technocrat rather a politician and 60% population which are residing at the periphery wants a real Afghan who can interact with people and warlords.
Here, Ghani is more of a technocrat rather than a politician, which definitely won the heart of 40% but if we talk of Mr. Karzai who could spend hours interacting closely with tribal leaders seems lacking in the present government, due to which there is creating a disgruntled group and community which do not want Ghani.
Secondly, he is a man in a rush. He realizes that his race was a challenged one. His authenticity lays on the questionable bargain of a National Unity Government, upheld by the U.S.
To do something substantial which Mr. Ghani can show to the people is peace talks with the Taliban.
Dr. Ghani is at knifepoint to finish up a peace process with the Taliban and get some venture into the Afghan economy so that monetary development could be achieved, which has declined from nine for each penny every year. This is the reason; Mr. Ghani's top priority was to engage with Pakistan once came to the power in September 2014.
Two peace talks have already been held, one in Xinjiang, Western province of China and other was held on July 7, 2015 at Muree, hill station of Pakistan. The next talk which was supposed to be held on July 31, 2015 got cancelled by the Taliban itself once the truth regarding death of Mullah Omar two years back, Chief of Taliban surfaced in the media and confirmed by the Afghanistan government and Taliban itself.
Now, what next? Under whose guidance and order all previous talks were conducted is matter of concern to Ghani as this fact is known to everyone?
Will Taliban get ready to accept the Afghanistan constitution instead of claiming formation of Islamic Emirates? Will they become political?
Even if this peace talk gets success with Taliban, what about the other factions which have already taken their stand not to undergo any peace talk. Some of them have already pledge the allegiance of IS.
How India has made strong hold in Afghanistan?
India got chance to re establish its relation with Afghanistan since 2001 once a UN sponsored Bonn conference in 2001 established a political reconstruction process, which included the adoption of new constitution. India equally participated in all these process along with other western power.
This relationship was taken to a new height by signing the strategic partnership agreement between the two.
This strategic partnership provides assistance in the field of Human resource development, skill development, capacity building, duty free access to Indian market, infrastructure, education and technical assistance.
India's assistance to Afghan is channeled into three primary zones: framework improvement – roads, water, power; capacity building – 1,300 annual college scholarships and civil service training grants; and humanitarian assistance – food and medical aid.
Ghani's forerunner, Hamid Karzai, demonstrated a nearby companion of the Indians, and they treated him in kind: Afghanistan got $2.2 billion in Indian military and monetary aid over the course of his 13 years in office.
There have been frequent high level visit from the both side to strengthen their political and strategic relation.
To get access to landlocked Afghanistan and potentially on to Central Asia, Russia, and Europe via land was impossible except through Pakistan, which is not seen as feasible in light of Indo- Pak relation.
To reduce this gap, India constructed Chabahar port at South of Iran which is strategically more important for India than for Iranians.
Can India be really ignored in Afghanistan?
Can India be really Ignored?
Indo-Afghan relations traces back to the Indus Valley civilization when Alexander occupied the Seleucid Empire which known today as Afghanistan.
Buddhism was brought to this country by the Mauryans and much of Afghanistan was influenced by Buddhist, Hindu and Zoroastrian culture until the arrival of seven century. But Hindus too were equally got privilege there.
This cultural ties can be still felt among the Afghans. This ancient Afghans link was snapped by the Taliban, though India became one of the key supporters of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance.
After the Taliban was removed from Kabul, India built its bridge with the people step by step. India's $ 2.2 billion aid to Afghanistan is not the biggest aid package. Yet India for once has spent its cash admirably and done work which touches individuals' day by day lives: Water supply, transmission lines, streets, agribusiness, a children’s hospital, grants for study in India, training of officials and helping to build institutions.
All these developments have really left strong imprint in the mind of Afghan towards India. Afghan students in India call it a second home and treat it equally.
Bollywood, Ekta Kapoor’s TV serials have become household items in Afghanistan. Its impact can be felt when you see an Afghan singing a song of the most famous film, “Khud Gawah”. Most of them can easily converse in Hindi.
India concern for Afghan’s stability and prosperity has influenced greatly and it’s not easy for any government in Afghanistan whether pro Pakistan or pro China to snap with India. This is the reason; China is concerned about success of this peace talk.
Though, India is not too much worried about China’s involvement as it feels that both countries want stabilized Afghanistan. If India is only scared about the Pakistan involvement. This is the reason that India skeptical about China-India partnership in Afghanistan development as China is all seasoned friend of Pakistan.
Analysis: This is not going to change notwithstanding the urgings of hard-liners who need to venture India's power in the area. Let Pakistan and China attempt to alter Afghanistan, is the state of mind. India must concentrate on its soft power and keep on living up to expectations for the populace of Afghanistan. That has played awesome profits.
India needs not to be worried about Dr. Ghani testing his Pakistan-China venture. This does not lessen the abundance of goodwill developed over the decade in all areas of the Afghan group covering countrywide economic cooperation projects, infrastructure, health, nutrition, institution building, human resource development and industry
This participation ought to be extended provided security is managed. India should expedite its entire pending project and at the same time, India needs to accelerate the expansion of the Chabahar port on the Iranian coast which provides an alternative route to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
You may contact Shree Shubham on firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @shubhamshree85