By Atta Rasool Malik*
Chanakya, the Hindu philosopher known for his cunning dictums on statecraft said, “The enemy of your enemy is your friend.”
In perpetually following this malicious maxim to this day, the Indian leadership continues to foment trouble for all its neighbours in general, and Pakistan in particular. Nowhere else is this Indian treachery more pronounced than in Afghanistan where India is bending over backwards to lure Afghanistan into this friendship trap by sowing the seeds of discord between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The war ravaged Afghanistan, which is already a victim of prolonged US imposed war, finds it too convenient to take the Indian bait by showing its allegiance to cunning Indian propositions. In this backdrop, driving a wedge between Pakistan and Afghanistan has now become the top Indian agenda in the region.
RAW’s involvement in the Afghan imbroglio
Reports are frequently appearing in the media about the Indian intelligence service RAW’s involvement in the Afghan imbroglio. Some of them have revealed that Indians are present in US Camp Dwyer in Gramsier district of Helmand along with two Indian MI-25 helicopters. Nevertheless, the Indians are officially denying any participation in operations against the Taliban to avoid direct confrontation or response from the militants.
On the other hand, a major medical treatment facility run by Indians and used by the Taliban has been discovered by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) during an operation in the Syedabad District in central Maidan Wardak province on Dec 7, 2017. Afghan officials have claimed that the facility was used for the treatment of Taliban insurgents from different provinces including Paktia, Ghazni and other parts of city.
The facility was well-equipped and was used for treatment of wounded Taliban insurgents including performance of sophisticated surgeries, the officials added.
Taliban rejected any links with the facility while claiming that the clinic was providing healthcare services to the local residents and was approved by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). This is interesting as Afghan authorities have long been making accusations regarding use of medical treatment facilities by the Taliban insurgents inside Pakistan. However, the above report discredits such allegations against Pakistan.
To top it all, the Pentagon has declared India as Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner. “India is Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner and the largest contributor of development assistance in the region,” said the Pentagon in its report to the Congress titled ‘Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan’.
India provides significant training opportunities for Afghan officers and enlisted personnel and has frequently offered to increase its burden sharing for Afghanistan, it said, adding that approximately 130 Afghans travel to India each year to attend various military and commissioning programmes. It has also donated limited security assistance, most notably four Mi-35 helicopters, the Pentagon said.
TTP Terror in Pakistan
Afghan and Indian intelligence agencies gave funds and other assistance to Pakistani Taliban militants to perpetrate acts of terrorism in Pakistan, the group’s former spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, who surrendered recently, said in a video recently released by Pakistan Army. Afghanistan strongly refuted the claim, while India’s Ministry of External Affairs said it was not yet able to comment on the video. Liaquat Ali, better known as Ehsanullah Ehsan, was a senior commander for the Pakistani Taliban, and later for a Taliban breakaway faction, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar. As all this keeps happening, the top US military commander in Afghanistan has warned that India’s growing influence in the country could “exacerbate regional tensions” and encourage “countermeasures” by Pakistan, India’s historic rival in south Asia. In a confidential report submitted to US President Barack Obama on August 30, General Stanley McChrystal wrote, “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan”.
Besides destabilizing Pakistan, India has deep economic interests in Afghanistan too. A consortium of Indian companies won the rights to three iron ore mines in the Hajigak region of Afghanistan back in 2011. India’s influence in Afghanistan has been on the wane, especially after the former President, the India-educated Hamid Karzai left office. On one hand, it can expect regular attacks on Indian interests, while on the other hand it cannot afford to pull out of that country due to vested interests listed below.
As becomes evident from the above, India is hell bent on playing the dirty game in Afghanistan in the garb of a savior and friend. The ordinary Afghans must realize that in truth, the Indians have got no love lost for Afghanistan. On the contrary, Indian designs are driven by the following factors:
- Use Afghanistan as a launch pad to sponsor terrorist acts in Pakistan as its the deep-rooted animosity towards Pakistan which is making Indians indulge in a sham display of fondness for Afghanistan.
- To keep Afghanistan in a perpetual state of turmoil through a web of RAW woven intrigues as an unstable Afghanistan will serve Indian interests by providing an excuse for Indian presence there.
- To undo the Islamic identity of deeply religious Afghan people through a deep ingress of Afghan media. Bollywood is a time tested weapon in their hands.
- To exploit the natural resources of Afghanistan in the guise of economic and military aid.
- To please the Americans by acting as a sidekick and towing their line on Afghanistan. In all likelihood, the day Americans leave Afghanistan, Indians will be the first to take flight.
India is not working for peace and stability in Afghanistan. Therefore, a larger Indian role in Afghanistan in the long run is neither in favor of Afghanistan nor United States.
*The author, Atta Rasool Malik, hails from semi-tribal areas of Pakistan. He is a veteran and holds M Phil degree in ‘International Relations’ from National Defence University, Islamabad. His interest includes politics of South Asia and Islamic and Jewish theology.