Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

In the U.S.-Pakistan fight, India an anxious spectator

September 29, 2011

Pakistan and the United States are in the middle of such a public and bruising fight that Islamabad’s other pet hate, India, has receded into the background.  A Pakistani banker friend, only half in jest, said his country had bigger fish to fry than to worry about India, now that it had locked horns with the superpower.

But more seriously, India itself has kept a low profile, resisting the temptation to twist the knife deeper into its neighbour when it faces the risk of isolation. Much of what Pakistan stands accused of, including the main charge of  using violent extremism as an instrument of foreign policy, is an echo of what New Delhi has been blaming Pakistan for, for two decades now.  Even the language that America’s military officials led by Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, and diplomats  have employed such as “proxy wars” , “cross border raids”   or terrorism central to describe Pakistan is a throwback to the 1990s and later when India and Pakistan were dueling over  Kashmir.

“What  Mullen has said with regard to the role of certain forces in Pakistan, is also something which is nothing new to us. In fact when we were the first to flag this issue earlier, the world didn’t believe us,” the Press Trust of India quoted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as telling reporters on board his plane on the way home from the UN General Assembly meeting in New York. 

But the tone and tenor of the Indian response to Pakistan’s predicament, including on the Hindu right, has been remarkably restrained. This, as former Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran wrote in The Indian Express on Thursday, is hardly the time to gloat over Pakistan’s situation.

If anything, India and Pakistan this week agreed to overhaul trade ties that everyone recognizes can strengthen the peace constituency in both countries as they develop stakes in each other’s economies. Pakistan is moving towards granting India Most Favoured Nation status – the very word used to be anathema to the Pakistani right even if it doesn’t really mean a great deal — while India may lift a veto on lifting all tariffs on Pakistan textile exports to Europe as a step toward helping the neighbour climb out of a deep economic downturn.

Actually this might be a time for India to deepen engagement with its neighbour  in other areas too, Saran argues, saying Pakistan’s western borders were so hot that it had a greater stake in stabilising ties with India than before, even if it was purely tactical.  Pakistan’s “meddling” in Kashmir, where cross-border violence is already down to its lowest level,  may become even less,  he says.  Given the heat over the security establishment’s links to the Haqqani network, it may even tell other militant groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba, blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, to further lower their profile.

For India, it creates an opportunity to test Pakistan’s willingness to enter into negotiations on some of the less contentious issues such as a military standoff on the remote Siachen glacier and a dispute over Sir Creek in the Arabian Sea. In New York this week, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hin Rabbani Khar offered  uninterrupted dialogue with India.

But the worry lines remain on Afghanistan where the assassination of  former president Burhanuddin Rabbani has robbed India of a leader of the old Northern Alliance,  which New Delhi supported during the civil war.  It could be well be the start of a campaign by Taliban militants and their supporters in Pakistan to finish off Afghan leaders seen to be  well disposed to India,  B.Raman, the former head of India’s Research and Analysis Wing, wrote on his blog.  As Western forces thin out, the battle for influence will only intensify.

India, which went on a diplomatic overdrive following the ouster of the Taliban and the installation of the India-friendly Hamid Karzai administration, pouring millions of dollars in aid, faces its toughest challenges yet if the United States sticks to its plan to withdraw forces. One option is to revive the Northern Alliance that fought the Taliban, but quite apart from the fact that members of the alliance have gone into government or splintered away, it is no longer certain that the old regional players such as Russia and Iran  would line up behind. Raman said it was doubtful  that India could strike the same level of cooperation with Russia as in the past, while an alliance with Iran, the other backer was virtually ruled out because of America’s hostility.


Let us not misread the events what the americans have done. Pashtoons on both sides of the border are one Nation, regardless of their family infights.Te Americans have never understood the Pashtoon Psyche and over time brought Hamid Karzai closer to Mullah Omar than at the start of the conflict which the northern alliance(not Pashtoons) instigated to make theAmerican entry into the arena. Pakistan military has slowly and steadily come closer to understand the situation, failing which Mr Karzai would have openly asked the USA administration assistance to declare Pakistan Northas part of Afghanstan! Hard times await the yankees, the vietnam scenario is slowly but steadily developing.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

India is as anxious as any other country that does not want to see instability in the region – no more, no less. Actually this US Pak spat is now fast becoming a comedy. Both countries are playing the same game, running with the hare and hunting with the hounds – sure fire recipe for failure. Both go so far and then send out feelers. Neither really knows how to get to the next stage except through non sensical bravado and hype.

After making a brave show of trying to convince the world that Pakistan has friends – China and Saudis – Pakistan will have finally face reality. No other country is as stupid as the US in handing out doles to those who attack it, yet, even the Americans have started biting the bullet now. As the election grows near, public opinion will force the US to cut off the money tap. Don’t know how much S Arabia will loosen purse strings, they are under US influence too, but I am pretty sure China sees no reason to be a generous Uncle Sam. Thats when the shoe will pinch Pakistan. So we just have to wait till reality bites both.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

DaraInida:”So we just have to wait till reality bites both”.

Dara, whatever the outcome be, it seems we are going to be in the nut cracker situation. Americans are going to follow their Interests and there will be a time when American forces no longer will be in Afghanistan. Before “Reality bites” even us, we should be prepared to play the great game of supporting the Northern alliance groups. Rabbani’s assassination may have weakened the NA but the fear of extinction will lead the other ethnic groups to common unity and a front where we can fund and ensure Taliban wont become arbiters of the whole nation and be limited to the South East of Afghanistan.

Posted by sensiblepatriot | Report as abusive

DaraIndia:”Don’t know how much S Arabia will loosen purse strings, they are under US influence too”.

Donno, The reformist king is fighting the Conservative and forces of bigotry in his kingdom and he is old and ill. When the time comes, salafist’s and Wahhabi’s are baying the blood of the monarchy. Monarchy will come to a deal (like always) and money will flow to extremist elements in Afghanistan. The only difference this time is, Pakistan no longer has the same control (Except for Haqqanis) with the Taliban that it had during soviet invasion. Will they still play the game and arm the Taliban. I bet they would as old habits die hard.

Posted by sensiblepatriot | Report as abusive


I think the US finally wants an outcome on the lines of what former Ambassador Blackwill proposed and as you mention here. Partition into Taliban and Northern Alliance. Pakistan will certainly oppose any such move. India’s thinking always has been, we are ok with what the Afghans want for themselves.Not really a game changer but India has few options at the moment. Now with Karzai having stopped dialogue with the Taliban and left it to Pakistan, things have again been left in limbo.

My guess is, I think India is taking some quiet initiatives with other neighbouring players to bring about some harmony. Finally, whether Pakistan likes it or not, India, being a regional player, will be involved to some extent in terms of economic and infrastructural assistance. It cannot be left out of the final equation, at least in my opinion. There is a strategic treaty being signed during Karzai’s visit in the near future, so maybe India is just letting Pakistan blow steam for the moment. Eventually Pakistan too has to realise it can only play dog in the manger so far and no further.

As regards Saudi involvement, I really have insufficient knowledge except to make a few conjectures. Perhaps what you say is more likely.

Posted by DaraIndia | Report as abusive

The super power do no longer need the super marines to fight wars, they are down to mafia tactics using drones to carry out target assasinations and extra judicial illings. What a tragedy for the civilised world to watch the land, which until recently boasted about democracy and rule of law, to go down in such a manner.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

Looks like someone is still pissed off at the recent drone strike which killed the hate preaching Al Qaeda terrorist holed up in Syria. It’s funny, how these terrorist sympathizers never talk about “democracy” or “extra judicial killings” when their brothers are blowing up innocent civilians of other faiths.

Posted by Mortal1 | Report as abusive

India an anxious spectator – Really? ticle2512682.ece?homepage=true

Afghans want India to train their forces. Will Pakistan and all the terrorist sympathizers learn something now? Or will the morons continue to issue decrees against non-believers?

Posted by 007XXX | Report as abusive

A great triumph for clintonians to provoke two vetoes in the security council. Is this the beginning of two super powers ganging up against the Imperial power? Indian wolves coming closer looking for the left over bones?

Karzai is a fool to look for asylum in India? Those who are weak has no place in Afghanistan.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

In reference to India/Pak relationship most of the unjust actions of Pak are known however in case of Afghanistan; Pak destroyed that country under the cover of a Muslim brotherhood. To keep the pashtuns of Khyber Pakhtukhwa under occupation Pak wanted to weaken Afg from within. Khyber Bakhtunkhwa was actually Afghanistan and was occupied by British and was declared part of Pak after the partition (see Durand Line). In 1972 Pak started forming training camps and used some religious Afghan individuals like Gulbudin, Masoud, Rabani, Sayaf, Khalis. In 1974 these people launched a failed coup. In 1978 a ferocious pro-soviet regime came to power in Afg. To escape its ferocity most Afghans took refuge in Pak. The ISI and CIA used that opportunity and further enhanced those training camps creating so much turbulence in southern border of Russia that it eventfully made the Russians deploy troops into Afg resulting in several million deaths/ refugee. Pak trough those religious figures living in Pak provoked a war or Jihad. According to documents revealed now by Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars; if it wasn’t because of CIA and ISI sensationalizing the cause of jihad; the regime of Traki/Amin would have collapsed in a couple of years due to their own internal problems (see Inside the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan and the Seizure of Kabul, also see The KGB in Afghanistan, or Documents on the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan e-Dossier No. 4) available for free from CWIHP website. These doc reveal that Russian never wanted to go to Afg or to stay there. As per US State Secrt Berezniki “we induced the Russian invasion to give them their Vietnam”. Therefore making that war unnecessary, in fact the Russian proposed safe withdrawal of its troops in 1982 and again in 1986 but as per Brzezinski “we wanted them to bleed and bleed more”. According to Mujahedeen commanders during the Russian war; Pak officers persistently were issuing orders to destroy dams, bridges and infrastructures. During the 10 years of war with Russia Pak was given billions of dollars to help Afghans however they used most of that money to rebuild Pak and develop nuclear weapon. Until today a major part of Pak’s budget is coming from Afg related conflicts. In 80s & 90s; Pakis kept the Afghan orphans in Madrasa brainwashed them and created Taliban out of them. In Pak there are 13000 madrasas if each produces 1 extremist we will have 13000 extremist per year. During the Taliban Pak was interested in destroying the military system in Afg. In fact by 1996 there was virtually no army or military or a single soldier. In the past 10 years Pak has received billions of dollars to stop the terrorism but the ISI further strengthen them. As long as there is war in Afg; Pak receives money therefore it prolongs the war. They have done all of the above under the name of Muslim brother and friend. It is time for Indians and Afghans to work closely and safeguard their countries from destruction.

Posted by Yosefzai | Report as abusive

stop singing the brotherhood song whic Mr Karzai is cnstanzly singing about Pakistanis. Pashtuns have no brothers and they are used to eliminating their cousins. Pahtunwali and the code of honour is in their DNA before they accepted Islam. This alone has determined their destiny throughout history. And please stop playing the game of one against the other. Neither India nor Pakistan are the partners of Pashtun Afghans. Let them determine their future destiny after having your territory being raped in modern times first by the Brits then by the USA and lastly by the Yanks and the former colonialists.

Talk is very cheap and what ever woodrow wilson institute and Mr Brezinski is a lot of crap, non sense and irrelevant.
Pashtuns in now Pakhtoohwa have lost their dignity for associating with non Pashtuns of Pakistan and then in Afghanistan, not because of sinister conspiricy or any malice but simply because of disunity and the faults of Pashtuns themselves. Pashtuns have always determined their own future as on Nation and not as militants or non militants, religious or non religious humbug.
Like Hamid arzai said once that on both sides of the border Pashtun muslims are dying.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

correction,raped in modern times first by the Brits, then by the USSR and lastly by the yanks and NATO, the former colonialists,

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

well, right now the problem is not who did what in the past, Yankees always played a double policy and they are so good in it, they never let anyone understand their plot. They actually used Pakistan and in such a way that not only their objective is accomplished but in the end they have betrayed their oldest ally. Now their stream is towards India coz they never want China to surpass them. Now they will economically stabilize India like how they did with Indonesia and Malaysia and Taiwan. But after a little time they will start asking them to fulfil their demands, they will pay them 10 rs and will ask them to do the work of 20, and the things they will ask them to do will slowly take away their credibility. Like in the past, 1965 war b/w Pak and India was a creation, then the partition of Pakistan and then the kargil issue and the nuclear race in the subcontinent. America knew that both india and pakistan have the bomb long before but it keeps ignoring, then why are they blabbing now. Being a Pakistani and seeing the conditions of my country, i am also very anxious abt the fate of all these nuclear devices. It is US that made the militaries of all these 3 countries including afghanistans that now they are states within the state. They cant be controlled by the democratic govts. Like the Kargil issue, PM Nawaz Sharif was in the peace talks with india while there was this conflict b/w the armies. If US really wanted to see peace in this region excluding India (as they are awared people now) it should help us bring good leadership, not the old faces and curropt politicians. The articles mentioned that Pakistan used their aid money in developing the nuclear devices, thats wrong, all the aid money is in the bank accounts of these curropt politicians, a recent report of GEO news estimated that over 90 billion$ are overseas in the banks of these ministers and senators, i dont think US has given more than that for both the wars, charlie wilson said that CIA paid 5 billion of the afghan war and since 2001 US has paid like 13 billion $ and the 1 billion per year educational aid. US knows where all the money is going and they are just using the name aid whereas this is a bribe to our leader. This is whats is making people to dislike America. Pakistan is a country that spends 60 % of its annual budget on the army and 2% on education and 4% on health budget. This is where a change can be done. Weapons of mass destruction wont give us anything. Today US is destabilizing coz they are making weapons there was a time when US used to make refrigerators and airconditions, the sandwich makers and the computers. That was the key to their success. I dont know where this world is going. plz do something to bring peace

Posted by Abdul_Basit | Report as abusive

Let us not read too much in day to day events recognising that international events overtake sometimes the well planned strategies and surprise even the most competent strategists and powerful player.

Two vetoes were filed in the UN against the USA sponsored resolution against syria in the UN security council. This is a new shift in the balance of power and if I was the American President I would regard this more serious and failure of the state dept than the set back in Afghan war, miry relations with Allies including Pakistan and the fall of domestic economy.

Perhaps the new spin or a genuine plot by the Iranians attempting to harm the Saudi ambassador, may provide the USA to lecture the world about morality in international behaviour. We in Europe are fed up with the over reactions of the Americans against criminals and continualy beating the war drums. They must stop their gang ho strategy.People of the world need peace to prosper and live a normal family life without foreifn intrusions in their domestic affairs.

Rex Minor

Posted by pakistan | Report as abusive

given the pakistani hate against the united states go anabated, Indians should get ready for the pakistani punch in their rage against US whom they cannot touch but blame India for all their problems.

Posted by aamadmi | Report as abusive

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