Based on my readings in my subject, Political Science of Grade XII I just want to give a short summary on the Indo-Afghan relations.
Relations between India and Afghanistan can be traced back to over 2000 years ago due to the prosperous Mughal Rule starting from Babur till Aurangzeb. India has always strived to maintain its interests in Afghanistan, especially in the present.
Having borne the brunt of civil war and foreign interventions for over three decades, Afghanistan is in dire need of peace and development. There is inadequate security, human rights violations, poor socio-economic conditions, and presence of foreign troops. The development of complex obstacles to accomplishing these needs has been fuelled by Afghanistan’s war-torn past.
In the 19th and 20th century, India was the only South Asian country which recognized the communist People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan(PDPA) government and the presence of Soviet military personnel, and provided technical and humanitarian aid to President Najibullah’s Afghanistan.
The Soviet Union provided India with significant economic and military aid during the time when Nikita Khrushchev was in power, which led to the formation of strong economic, military, strategic and diplomatic ties. This greatly influenced India’s decision to maintain diplomatic ties with the Soviet-backed PDPA government in Afghanistan. Diplomatic ties, however, ended after the Taliban regime took power.
During the time when the Taliban was in power, India experienced many security threats in terms of the proliferation Afghan mujahedeen militants in the Kashmir area. In 1999, Indian Airlines Flight 841 was hijacked by a Pakistan-based mujahedeen group, and eventually landed in Afghanistan. The hijackers were believed to be associated with the Taliban, which led to further tensions between Afghanistan and India. India supported the rebel movement of the United Front when the Taliban was in power. During the US-led intervention, India offered support in forms which included intelligence. After the Taliban government was toppled, India actively participated in rebuilding efforts.
Recently, India has committed US$2 billion to development in Afghanistan and the latest tranche worth US $100 million was cleared on November 8, 2012. India has assisted Afghanistan in sectors such as power generation, education, infrastructure development, transport, health, defense and diplomacy. In 2005, India suggested Afghanistan’s membership to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). India and Afghanistan have formed strategic and military partnerships to combat regional militants.
With regards to humanitarian assistance and education initiatives in Afghanistan, India has played a significant role. Every year, about 1,000 Afghan students study in Indian universities on scholarships, and Afghan civil servants have access to Indian training institutions. The Indian government also runs a program that provides lunch meals to around 2 million Afghan school children. In addition, India has also constructed numerous field clinics and a children’s’ hospital.
The Indian firm C&C Constructions has been actively involved in the infrastructure sector in Afghanistan. It has built roads exceeding the length of 700 km in total which cost around US $250 million. The crown jewel of C&C’s works is the bronze-domed Afghan parliament building, costing $125 million and funded by the Indian government. Other projects include a 400 km power line, and a hydro-electricity plant.
Security is an issue that needs to be improved, and India has made it clear that it will be willing to assist Afghanistan in this issue. Furthermore, security issues in areas of reconstruction have also been highlighted. India would also prefer to make sure that no terrorist training camps are operational in Afghanistan, and would be willing to participate in any Afghan-led operations against insurgents.
India would like to expand its role in the south Asia region, and accepts a regional arrangement for rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan with close cooperation of other nations. However, Pakistan has expressed opposition to the creation of a regional body which will oversee the economic and security situation in Afghanistan. India would also hope for the various ethnic divisions of Afghanistan to cooperate with each other to ensure sustainable peace in Afghanistan. India has also expressed interests in the large natural gas reserves in Iran, and may decide to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan.
It is also in India’s interests to prevent corruption within the Afghan government, and seeks to strengthen democracy in Afghanistan and has also expressed its desire to abolish the illicit cultivation of opium in Afghanistan, as it is a method by which the Taliban raises funds. Methods that may be taken to reduce this could include but are not limited to increasing security in areas where opium is grown, encouraging the production of other cash crops, establishing fair trade systems to ensure profitability for farmers, and promoting education and awareness in Afghanistan.
Therefore I conclude by saying that being an emerging economy in South Asia, India believes that it is its responsibility to ensure the presence of peace and security in its neighbours. India has made it clear that it will not pull out of Afghanistan, as it has supported the government in the form of humanitarian aid even when the PDPA government was in power.