India Afghanistan Relations

India- Afghanistan Relations

This article deals with ‘India Afghanistan Relations.’ This is part of our series on ‘International Relations’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here

Brief history of India Afghanistan Relations

1978 People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan ( PDPA) (Marxist Party) took power in military coup , known as SAUR Revolution  . They started series of radical reforms in Afghanistan and as a results conservatives  started war against them.
1979 Soviet Union entered Afghanistan (after threat of removal of Socialist government in neighbourhood of USSR was eminent)  and war started between  Soviet Union led Afghan forces and Mujahideen allegedly supported by USA and Pakistan  
1989 Soviet forces left Afghanistan  
1990s  Taliban rose to power  
2000s till 2017 – Subsequent to 9/11 attacks in USA , NATO interfered in Afghanistan under OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (2001)  with the purpose to defeat Al Qaeda ,remove Taliban from powercreate a viable democratic state
– NATO stayed in Afghanistan for  more than decade 
– Obama Policy – Remove NATO from Afghanistan
2016 In 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was conferred with Afghanistan’s highest civilian honour, the Amir Amanullah Khan Award.  
2017 2017 Trump Policy : 16,000 NATO Forces to remain in Afghanistan Fight till win

Importance of Afghanistan for India

  • Economic importance
    • Natural Resources: Afghanistan has significant oil and gas reserves +  rich in rare earth materials.
    • Massive reconstruction plans for the country offer a lot of opportunities for Indian companies.
  • Security:
    • Stable government in Kabul will not give safe haven for terrorist activity that might reduce insurgency in Kashmir.
    • Prevention of Pakistan from regaining its central role in Afghan affairs.
  • Gateway to energy rich central Asia: Afghanistan is situated at crossroads between South Asia and Central Asia and South Asia and the Middle East. 

Indian works in Afghanistan

  • India has contributed 2 billion $ for Afghanistan’s reconstruction (6th largest donor by amount) 
  • Afghanistan’s Parliament building is built by India (cost = $45 Million)  . 
  • Other projects include
    • Salma Dam-$ 300 Million  (renamed to India-Afghanistan Friendship Dam)
    • Construction of a 218 km road from Zaranj to Delaram for facilitating movement of goods to Chabahar Port
    • Committed to contribute substantially in improving transportation system in Kabul & to donate 1000 buses
  • Afghanistan is rich in mineral resources .   India has acquired rights to iron mining (Hajigak iron ore reserves)
  • Accessing Afghanistan is the biggest problem for India because Pakistan doesn’t allow India trucks to pass from her territory & reach Afghanistan. To overcome this India has Invested in route through Iran (Zaranj-Delaram Highway) . Chabahar port will also help in this pursuit
  • Invested in TAPI pipeline . If project takes off, will help Afghanistan earn transit fee
  • India donated three Mi-25 attack helicopters
  • Large number of Afghani students come to India for study through scholarships
  • India train cadets of Afghani Army at NDA and IMA .
  • Afghanistani Cricket Team has base in Dehradun.
  • Soft Power : Indian Bollywood movies and dramas are among favorite of Afghani people

APTTA (Af-Pak Transit Trade Agreement)

  • Under the modified agreement in 2011 (treaty was originally signed in 1950 to provide access to Karachi port & Lahore dry Port to Afghanistan and  does not allow Afghan goods to cross the actual border)
    • Afghan trucks loaded with Cargo  meant for India can travel only up to its last checkpoint at Wagah (Attari)
    • No Indian goods could be imported  and Afghan trucks would have to drive back empty to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border where they could load up with Pakistani goods .
  • Afghanistan demands  Pakistan to open transit route for India.  But Pakistan didn’t allow  
  • Bitter India-Pakistan relations mean Afghan trucks carrying perishable fruit face long delays on both sides of the border .
  • Due to this, India is adopting alternate routes
    • Zaranj Delaram Highway and Chabahar Port for trade with Afghanistan in  future (already discussed in India Iran relations)
    • June 2017 : India-Afghanistan Air Freight Corridor (Bring Dry fruits to India & take medicine, garments etc from India)

Issue : US withdrawal from Afghanistan

 US President Donald Trump is ordering an American drawdown in Afghanistan

Reasons for US withdrawal

  • Trump’s America First Policy : Trump is not in favour of wasting US ‘blood and treasure’ on distant lands (17th year and no solution in sight)
  • Realisation that Afghanistan war cant be won owing to Afghan geography and society

Reasons for US failure

  • Political factor : US failed to integrate Taliban into Afghan government & National Unity Government was corrupt & inefficient
  • Geographical Factors :  hostile terrain as well as guerilla tactics used by Talibs
  • Great Game:  
    • Intervention by global powers e.g. U.S.-Russia tensions are creating space for proxies
    • Intervention by regional powers . Eg : India vs Pakistan
  • Role of Pakistan : ISI allowed senior Taliban Leaders to run war in relative security. 
  • Socio Cultural Factors :  nomadic and tribal society in Afghanistan comprises of multiple tribes like Pashtuns, Turks and Persians, each dominant in different regions, asserting their own traditions and culture. The tribal factionalism didn’t allow the democratically elected government to settle in Afghanistan

Consequences of US withdrawal

  • Resurgence of Taliban : Post US withdrawl , Taliban with help of Pakistan can takeover whole of Afghanistan
  • Breeding ground of Terrorism threatening security of Central Asia and India
  • Refugee Crisis as instability will result in mass exodus of Afghans.

Consequences for India

  • Upsurge of terrorism and act as launchpad for attacks on India as happened during 1990s post Soviet withdrawl (IC 814 hijacking). )
  • On Kashmir :  Separatists in Kashmir are using Taliban’s “victory” over US  to inspire that they too could “defeat India”.
  • India has invested 2 billion $ in Afghanistan‘s infrastructure along with large investment in Chabahar port with eye on Afghanistan .
  • TAPI project may get jeopardised impacting energy security of India
  • Increased Pakistani involvement in Afghan policy => disturbs Balance of Power in Middle East & Central Asia in Pakistan’s favour
  • Refugee Crisis will impact India. Large number of Afghani Sikhs and Hindus will seek refuge in India

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