India and Pakistan: the missing piece in the Afghan jigsaw

November 26, 2009

One year ago, I asked whether then President-elect Barack Obama’s plans for Afghanistan still made sense after the Mumbai attacks torpedoed hopes of a regional settlement involving Pakistan and India. The argument, much touted during Obama’s election campaign, was that a peace deal with India would convince Pakistan to turn decisively on Islamist militants, thereby bolstering the United States flagging campaign in Afghanistan.

As I wrote at the time, it had always been an ambitious plan to convince India and Pakistan to put behind them 60 years of bitter struggle over Kashmir as part of a regional solution to many complex problems in Afghanistan.  Had the Mumbai attacks pushed it out of reach? And if so, what was the fall-back plan?

One year on, there is as yet still no sign of a fall-back plan for Afghanistan and the tense relationship between India and Pakistan remains the elusive piece of the jigsaw.

After some attempts at peace-making which culminated in a meeting between the leaders of India and Pakistan in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt in July, and despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s own determination to try to repair relations, the two countries have descended into mutual recrimination.

India accuses Pakistan of failing to take enough action against the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group it blames for Mumbai and which analysts believe is still in a position to launch fresh attacks, and refuses to reopen formal peace talks broken off after the three-day assault. Pakistan has put seven men on trial over the attacks but has refused to arrest the group’s founder Hafiz Saeed nor, analysts say, to dismantle the infrastructure of an organisation whose original role was to fight India in Kashmir. It says it wants to resume talks with India.

As a result of the deadlock, both countries remain bitter rivals for influence in Afghanistan; while Pakistan, fighting its own battle against Islamist militants who have turned against the state, is seen as reluctant to move more troops from its eastern border with India to press home a military campaign against the Pakistani Taliban in its tribal areas. India in turn remains vulnerable to another Mumbai-style attack which could trigger Indian retaliation against Pakistan, running a risk of escalation between the two nuclear-armed countries.

“Now India and Pakistan are both playing for broke. Pakistan says it will support a U.S. regional strategy that does not include India, while India is talking about a regional alliance with Iran and Russia that excludes Pakistan. Both positions — throwbacks to the 1990s, when neighboring states fuelled opposing sides in Afghanistan’s civil war — are non-starters as far as helping the U.S.-NATO alliance bring peace to Afghanistan,” writes Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid in the Washington Post.

“To avoid a regional debacle and the Taliban gaining even more ground, Obama needs to fulfil the commitment he made to Afghanistan in March: to send more troops — so that U.S.-NATO forces and the Afghan government can regain the military initiative — as well as civilian experts, and more funds for development. He must bring both India and Pakistan on board and help reduce their differences; a regional strategy is necessary for any U.S. strategy in Afghanistan to have a chance. The United States needs to persuade India to be more flexible toward Pakistan while convincing Pakistanis to match such flexibility in a step-by-step process that reduces terrorist groups operating from its soil so that the two archenemies can rebuild a modicum of trust. ”

Obama and the U.S. administration are being very careful to avoid being seen as trying to mediate between India and Pakistan — India is sensitive about outside interference, particularly over Kashmir, which it sees as a bilateral dispute.

But in reality, the United States has been involved in easing tensions in every recent crisis between the two countries – from the 1999 Kargil war when India and Pakistan fought a brief but intense conflict along the Line of Control dividing the disputed former kingdom of Jammu and Kashmir, to a military standoff in 2001/2002 when close to a million men were mobilised along the border after an attack on the Indian parliament. Following the attack on Mumbai, it was to the United States that India turned to to put pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Will Obama be able to find a way forward to ease tensions between India and Pakistan, in turn creating a firmer regional foundation to stabilise Afghanistan? Or more precisely, is there a method to his initiatives over the last few months involving not just India and Pakistan, but also China, that in the fullness of time will be seen to be part of an overall strategy to drive a regional bargain that will underpin his plans for Afghanistan?

As discussed in this analysis, the United States faced a difficult balancing act in its relations with India, Pakistan and China.  The financial crisis had made it more economically dependent on China, while its need for support in Afghanistan made it more militarily dependent on Pakistan.

India, which was defeated in a border war with China in 1962, has always been suspicious of Beijing’s role as one of Pakistan’s closest allies. And since Obama’s election it also became wary of what it feared was a U.S. tilt towards China which might undermine burgeoning U.S.-India ties which flourished under his predecessor George W. Bush.

The United States has tried tonavigate its way through these competing rivalries by promising aid and support to Pakistan, while also inviting Indian prime minister Singh to make the first state visit of his presidency. During a visit by Obama to China, the two countries promised to work together to promote peace in South Asia. Analysts variously interpreted the pledge as unwarranted interference between India and Pakistan, a detail in a lengthy statement about U.S.-Chinese relations, and a sign that China might encourage Pakistan to crack down on Islamist militants in ways that would also reassure India. (As yet, the jury is still out on which interpretation is correct.)

When Obama unveils his latest plans for Afghanistan next week, we might get some clues as to whether he has used the long delay in announcing his strategy to build regional support for a grand bargain on Afghanistan.  Failing that, we might get an answer to the question I asked a year ago. What is the fall-back plan?

(Photos: The Taj hotel during the Mumbai attacks, the Dal lake in Kashmir; artillery at Drass on the Line of Control; the Obamas ahead of the state dinner for Prime Minister Singh)

Comments

Nobody is calling for a reduction in Indian aid or assistance. But a more discrete approach can’t hurt.- Posted by KeithIn other words west has no courage to confront Pakistan’s double game or treachery?At the least, can you stop giving them billions and arms? People in Mumbai, Kashmir are dying and the funds come from West.WHat is India doing wrong in Afghanistan that it needs to stop or hide?

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What could India offer under this scenario that would make things different?- Posted by KeithIndia won’t get involved directly in Afghan internal matters like security, politics or election. But India can train election personnel. India can donate Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs), that are 100% reliable and tamper-proof, and other election related materials. India can send election observers under UN mandate. Last Afghan election (2004) was conducted with Ink and paper donated by India.But Afghans must conduct their own election process, believe in it and take pride in it as we INdians do.

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Nobody is calling for a reduction in Indian aid or assistance. But a more discrete approach can’t hurt.- Posted by KeithIndia is also fighting for influence in Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives by making donations and aid for development. By investing in their development and opening more trade routes and FTAs. INdia is not sending terrorists and suicide bombers to these countries.So why is it wrong if INdia does the same thing in Afghanistan?Instead of telling ISI to stop sending terrorists, you want to tell INdia to stop building schools, hospitals, parliament in Afghanistan?Would you also tell the Afgahanis that this the freedom, liberty and prosperity that you can offer them?

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If the fight in Afghanistan is between India and Pakistan, why are we sending our young lads to die there?The West is not going to sacrifice soldiers in Afghanistan simply to protect India’s interests- Posted by KeithYou are wrong dude! US/NATO are not in Afghanistan to help India. US/NATO are in Afghanistan after 9/11 to correct their past mistakes.INdias and Afghans were the biggest victims of US/NATO mistakes since 1980s. 48000 INdians died in India by CIA-Saudi funded and ISI trained terrorists. More than 2 mil Afghans died when US/NATO handed over Afghanistan to Talibans and withdrew. WHen Indian plane IC-814 has hijacked to Afghanistan, a taliban delegation was making business/oil deals in Texas.INdia has been crying loudly since 1980s about these islamic terrorists. Did anybody help INdia? Instead Pakistan was rewarded with more arms and aid. And more Indians died.Afghans were being killed like goats by talibans since 1990. Where were US/EU that time? Nobody heard their cries?So it is hypocritical to say that US/EU are there to help Afghanistan or INdia. And you really think you can withdraw from Afganistan with eliminating Taliban/AQ?Even if India completely shuns Afghanistan, that will not solve the ISI/Taliban problem, nor can US/NATO exit.Indians have been telling since long, problem is not Afghanistan, problem is Pakistan, Problem is ISI. You also know this but you don’t want to say it loudly.The line between taliban and ISI is very thin. One day you will have to address that. The sooner you address ISI, the sooner you can leave Afghanistan!

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Also, to add one more little point. We do not have big agendas and any stake in these civilizational fights between Christianity and Islam. We have no axe to grind. Please take these crusades and stick them!!With due respect, we are poor and quite messed up in many ways but what we will not accept is tutoring from some religeous zealots writing for their civilizational/ national interests on the web or some parchment!. We are trying very very hard to marginalise the idiotic RSS and extreme righ winged BJP type folks into a corner in our own country to clip their wings and have some semblence of common sense. We need no distractions from working on poverty alleviation, building hospitals, schools and cleaning our streets. So please go away!!!!Very well said Rajeev, you have hit the nail on the head.The crusaders want to bleed India alongwith the Islamic world. No wonder, the yanks have been absolutely quite about Chinas nuclear aid to Pak. Now we have the evangelical president obama at the helm.The British govt has lost all leverage in Intl affairs, Zimbabwe and Srilanka give it the 2 finger salute. However in the case of India, a compliant pak is a very good tool to extract benefits. As a pension all deposed pak leaders get a apt in Mayfair with security, Sharif, Bhutto, Musharaf et al.Well it is all coming back here too. I had mentioned to Myra about the rise of BNP and how al-qaeda will manipulate this in the next elections here. There was a poll at the start of the week, wherein they mentioned that the Tories have lost their large lead over labour due to the BNP factor.

Posted by uday kumar | Report as abusive
 

That’s why its incumbent on India to co-operate with the West to help the mission in Afghanistan succeed.- Posted by KeithOK, so you have prescriptions for India on how to behave in Afghanistan.Would you tell us how are going to clean the SWAMP LANDS in Pakistan? Do you even see the SWAMP LANDS in Punjab and PoK? Before India can help you, you need to be honest and committed to the cause?It is really sad that CIA knew, inspected and funded LeT training camps in Punjab on the conditions that no foreigner get trained there? So attacks on INdia were fine and Indian lives were expendable? DO you know how INdians feel when know CIA was funder/partner of LeT training camps?But again ISI tricked CIA during that time and hid the foreign terrorists in mountains during CIA inspections.

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The West is not going to sacrifice soldiers in Afghanistan simply to protect India’s interests (on common interests maybe, but not so that India and Pakistan can bleed western soldiers). Some co-operation on the part of India here is called for. Such an inflexible attitude will either result in the US leaving early or India leaving Afghanistan…which ultimately won’t benefit either the US, India or Afghanistan.I have not called for a reduction in Indian involvement, closure of missions or anything like that. Just a bit of discretion that would help soothe Pakistanis (albeit a little), help secure Indian efforts (by not drawing attention to them), help legitimize the Afghan government, and maintain Afghan public support.- Posted by Keith==Keith,Fair enough, point taken. Diplomacy is the art of the impossible. You suggest discretion on the part of India to be flexible and work with US/Western forces. Your assertion is even if Afghans are not demanding it, such discretion on the part of India will help our common goal.There ends the good story. PAKS WILL NOT STOP THERE.Paks will keep demanding more. Their only goal is to keep Afghanistan as its colony. What is your response if we say you are way too optimistic here. Other countries have militaries, Pakistan army is the only army that owns a country. Only source of revenue for the country is ransom money from the rest of the world in the “war against terror”.Your suggestions to “soothe” Paks is continuation of Western policy of appeasement of pak militarism for the past 62 years.

 

Keith: “The West is not going to sacrifice soldiers in Afghanistan simply to protect India’s interests (on common interests maybe, but not so that India and Pakistan can bleed western soldiers). Some co-operation on the part of India here is called for. Such an inflexible attitude will either result in the US leaving early or India leaving Afghanistan…which ultimately won’t benefit either the US, India or Afghanistan.”Actually India is not desperate for something in Afghanistan. The US can come and go as it likes and nothing would change in this region. Hamid Karzai went to college in India. He can speak fluent Hindi. And he has long standing ties with India. Afghans love Indian movies and there are many Afghans settled in India, as far South as Hyderabad. When Indians interact with Afghans, there is absolutely no consciousness about religious differences. No one even senses about them being Muslims or vice versa. Interestingly as soon as anything regarding Pakistan is sensed, immediately the Muslim identity sets in and becomes some kind of a barrier to any kind of friendship between the people of the two nations.The level of hatred for India and “Hindus” is so high in Pakistan that they are going to create a ruckus on some matter or the other. If India closes all its missions inside Afghanistan, then it would be Kashmir. If Kashmir is settled, it would be 1971. If not, 1965 or the BJP or no one likes India in the neighborhood and so on. We know this will never end. So toning down India’s activities will achieve nothing.McChrystal is desperate for ideas and he is looking at any excuse he can get to explain his situation. Buying out the Taliban, making peace with them, asking India to move its military from Kashmir, telling them to tone down in Afghanistan etc sound silly to us. But he is the man with the power and the weapons. We feel that he is slowly falling into the trap laid by Pakistan.Pakistan is already warning that increasing the allied troops inside Afghanistan will not be successful. I’d like to see if the Americans consider Pakistani concerns and tone down their military presence or not. If they leave the place abruptly, it will only make things worse for them. India has always been at the receiving end and knows well not to rely on any external powers for its survival.

 

Keith,Why can’t the US/NATO completely withdraw form AFghanistan and middle east and and go home? That is the only demand of Taliban/AQ and talks failed on that condition!!!”The talks eventually failed due to the obstinacy of the Taliban representatives who wanted the withdrawal of the US-led allied forces from Afghanistan before initiating a formal dialogue with the US and the Karzai administration”http://www.thenews.com.pk  /daily_detail.asp?id=210843It is really sad that a superpower is surrendering to Talibans and negotiating a surrender deal with Ta

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Myra,Pakistani objective in Afghanistan is very limited: drugs and terrorism. Pakistanis need Afganistan as terror laboratory where they can research terror technics developed by ISI and other pakistani institutions. Pakistanis also need Afghanistan to grow drugs to fund their terror infrastructure spread across length and breadth of Pakistan.The reasons why Pakistanis are worried about Indian presence in Afghanistan are very simple : Indian presence is a deterrent for Pakistanis to achieve their objectives .India like other countries in the world definitely have their share of problems , but this does not mean India should assist Afghanistan in its development activities.

Posted by Manish | Report as abusive
 

Keith,Going through your comments and views there are three aspects which I would like to take further.Your recommendation that India channelise aid through the Afghan government being the first. I was under the impression that all aid or any involvement in Afghanistan is through the approval and knowledge of their government. Surely it is all on a govt. to govt. basis? Am not familiar with the situation on the ground there and your comment gives the impression that India has either gate crashed the party or that their private organisations operating independently there.Secondly:”And this comes down to issues like manpower, security, corruption, etc. I am curious to know how you think India can contribute to those issues specifically.”The Election Commisssion has tremendous experience in this regard; what with battling naxalites, insurgents and the criminal-politicl nexus. In fact because of the law and order problem and the resources required for it, India has now gone onto staggering the whole process. It is cumbersome but the end has justified the means. This exercise also includes positioning of teams and election machinery in very inhospitable terrain and hostile conditions. The Indian Election Commission, may have other faults but has a spectacular record in conducting free, fair and peaceful elections. In fact very few states today can perhaps match it in scale or efficacy.Lastly, when you ask as to why India does not contribute towards this exercise, I find this statement at loggerheads with the clamour for India to keep a low profile and scale down its exposure. The one thing I am sure of is that their experience and record is unmatched and a very positive contribution can be made. Maybe the Indians haven’t been asked to help out in this regard. Pakistan may blow another fuse and go ballistic if that were to happen! But hey, that would make for so many interesting posts and threads here ;)

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive
 

Myra:“One of the questions you hear frequently from Pakistanis is why India is investing so heavily in Afghanistan when it has so many problems of its own to deal with at home.(Chhattisgarh and the Maoist insurgency spring to mind)”By this yardstick the one country which is least qualified to invest anything, anywhere must surely be Pakistan. Closely followed by the UK for the fragile state of its economy and the mess its political system is in today. Yet Gordon Browne thinks nothing of actually championing the cause of a surge in Afghanistan and motivating his EU and NATO counterparts to become proactive.That such a question was considered worth discussing in this forum is quite revealing.

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On one hand NATO is perceived as oblivious if not complicit in raising Pakistan’s paranoia of Indian encirclement and on the other they are not gaining any Brownie points with the Pakistani public.The only way to have any semblance of stability and to rule out Afghanistan as a safe heaven for terrorists is to include India in the equation and that is why Pakistan wanted the Af-Pak-Ind troika as India has professed that it has as much at stake in Afghanistan, if not more as Pakistan. To single out Pakistan and not have India accountable for the outcome of any grand plan implemented in Afghanistan is not only disingenuous but also utterly impractical.I must give it to the Indians. They have come up with a strategy to gain influence in Afghanistan at the expense of the NATO forces and the NATO alliance has so far not been able to understand that the presence of Indian personnel instead of complimenting NATO’s mission is actually hurting it.Like I have said before. The moment NATO leaves Afghanistan India will follow suit. It cannot succeed where the mighty Soviet Union failed in creating a satellite state out of Afghanistan.

 

Keith, you point regards discretion is well taken. Please do note that it is not India beating drums about any involvement in Afghanistan. Well hopefully not. as firstly even we don’t want to be there. It is Pakistani Intelligence thats make a big issue of it and putting a spotlight on it even if we give humanitarian aid there.Cannot emphasize enough that India does not want to de-stabilize pakistan. we cannot wish away 170 million people living there. Some of the extreme elements in Pakistan (not all are extreme) put a negative spin on anything we do to make the west nervous about the situation or threaten to take away support of the war. We want the agendas in south asia to change from politics and religion to economics. thats the reason of our involvement in Afghanistan.The other reason we are there is so the NATO forces don’t turn a blind eye to our fate as a consequence of this war which is for all our future security. We don’t want the conversation to go like this:ISI: “We will get rid of the guys who attack the west, give us aid, but turn a blind eye to what we do in India as that is for our future. so lets shake on it!!”This argument will anyway not hold as the guys everyone is fighting are against civilized society at least the way we all understand it and it is naive to think that pakistan army can change the agenda of the extreme elements in the central asia and middle east.Also it is unreasonable to expect India to allow such an agreement to go through. thats the entire game!

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The world is cracking down on Pakistan to the extent that it can. Again, there aren’t a lot of levers to convince the Pakistanis to give up their policies of supporting insurgencies and terror groups. The US has tried to bolster democracy there by seeking to build civic institutions (via the KL bill).- Posted by KeithHave you tried sanctions? Have you tried to declare them a terrorist state (What more proof do you need)?Why not give the KL bills to Iran, Saddam, Libya, Cuba and put sanctions on Pakistan. What Pakistan has done to the world is 1000 times is worse than what Iran, Saddam, Libya, Cuba could have possibly done!France/Germany are competing to sell submarines to Pakistan. US is giving 15 bil and arms, IMF another 12 bil. Honestly these are just rewards for bad behavior. So why would they ever behave nice? Do you ever reward nice guys?Have you ever been to a drug rehab? Do they use sweet talk and reward to fix drug addicts and criminals?

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One of the reasons I asked why India was in Afghanistan was because there has been so little discussion of this in either the Indian media or the Indian parliament.By contrast, the question of why western troops are in Afghanistan is discussed every day in the media; it has also been debated in parliament.You would not expect a country which has its own security and development needs at home (eg the Maoist insurgency) to spend resources in Afghanistan out of pure altruism. So what are India’s interests there? Among the arguments put forward are:1) To keep Pakistan out?2) To use as a base for leaning on Pakistan itself?3) To prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups?4) To secure access to trade and resources in Afghanistan and Central Asia?You can see how points 1 & 2 seem much more threatening from a Pakistani point of view than points 3 & 4.Taking that further, you can even see the possibility of a convergence of interests between India and Pakistan on points 3 & 4 but not on points 1 & 2.It is clear that for many of the people who comment on this blog, it would require a leap of faith to believe in the possibility of a convergence of interests, a point that Pervez Hoodbhoy makes here:http://www.hindu.com/2009/11/28/sto ries/2009112855360800.htmKeith also raises some interesting questions about how Indian interests would be served if western troops withdraw from Afghanistan.One argument that comes up frequently is that western countries should withdraw their troops, secure their borders and do their best to prevent attacks at home with strong domestic counter-terrorism strategies rather than fighting an unpopular war far away.The United States is probably best placed to do this, Britain less so; but the two countries which would be most vulnerable to any resurgence of al Qaeda and other Islamist groups in Afghanistan would be Pakistan and India.It would be interesting to know how people in Afghanistan see things, but I don’t think we have many regular Afghan contributors. If so, please speak up.Myra

Posted by Myra MacDonald | Report as abusive
 

I think the Indian leaders are making a big mistake by helping Afganistan. We Indians should first take care of our poor and our exploited and then go outside. However much the world call us an upcoming superpower, we should always have our feet firmly on ground. We must remember the vast poor people who are devoid of basic need like a stable shelter, 2 time food and 24 hours electricity. We should concentrate on the providing education/ employment oppurtunities/ safe water/ pollution free air to all our citizens.Afganistan is not our war. To be inclusive and not get disturbed on your path to be great is good. The US and its NATO allies hearts fill with glee as we Indians rush into Afganistan where angels fear to tread.

Posted by Surya | Report as abusive
 

We Indians should not be so Pakistan-centric in our analysis. If we leave Afganistan, how will it harm us? Even if Taliban resurfaces, we have survived it before but this time can USA survive another terrorist attack on its mainland? Will China react if there is an attack in its Uigher dominated areas? Will Pakistan really benefit from “being the most important ally in war against terror”? Will the US and then China keep on giving money to Pakistan even after NATO has withdrawn from Afganistan? We Indians should develop our internal markets, our industries, provide all facilities to our citizens and just increase security on our borders for illegal infiltration. Let the troika of USA/Pakistan/China solve this mess.

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Myra,To help its all weather friend China, Pakistan has enabled itself to be another country that “encircles” India. Why is India not allowed to do the same to Pakistan via Afghanistan? At least, India is not fueling proxy terrorism or insurgencies, as their work in Afghanistan is nation building for the Afghans among other good works.Pakistani’s claim victimhood, while they are the ones that fuel state terrorism and proxy wars on India.I think India should keep its profile high in Afghanistan, very transparent and open and set an example for other countries to come and help build there. Pakistan is free to compete on a project basis there, if they want to give lasting things to the Afghans, besides the Taliban.India is sowing good Karma through good works. Pakistan continues to sow bad Karma. It is sort of like making friends in your neighborhood and ensuring that good people live there, so that it will be safe for your own existence. We Indians also have our own hungry people, but are not selfish, like Pakistani’s, we have the ability to break-off a piece of our Chapatti, even though at times, we might only get one a day to eat. WeIndians are capable of managing many fronts at one time and the Maoists will come into line one day as well, once China stops exporting and fueling tyranny and proxy dictatorships. China will reap its own bad Karma the way Pakistan is doing right now.

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You can see how points 1 & 2 seem much more threatening from a Pakistani point of view than points 3 & 4.– Posted by Myra MacDonald==India’s interests in Afghanistan are as much altruistic as China’s interests in Pakistan. Chinese don’t share language, religion, heritage, culture; yet we are intrigued by the depth of their friendship with Pakistan. We are curious what binds them so much- Cricket?, Ghazals? Bollywood movies? Tikka Masala?? We are floored.We feel threatened by the extreme visibility of Chinese in Pakistan and Pakistan in China. Zardari wants to visit Beijing every 3 months invited or not.The perceived India’s elbowing on Pakistan from Afghanistan cannot be and should not be viewed in isolation. This is a necessity for India in the larger context of Chinese elbowing of India through Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.India should not spend energy like Pakistan in confronting China, our much more powerful neighbor, but then we have to speak up to protest blatant support provided by China to sustain pakistani aggression and pak strategy of using terrorism as an instrument of state policy.That’s what our defense minister Antony just did:http://www.reuters.com/article/lates tCrisis/idUSDEL339934Indians would also like to have the privilege of “feeling threatened”. One hopes this unique privilege is made available to everyone in a democratic fashion.On the one hand paks repeatedly say they are the only ones in the region to challenge India eyeball to eyeball. Post Mumbai they were teasing India saying we are chickens and we only talk. And then turn around and say they feel threatened to demand strategic advantages from the West. Paks cannot have it both ways and the West should not keep supporting this.

 

Honestly India & Pakistan should not converge.India should pack its bag from Afghanistan & ask the Afghan issue to be solved between Pak/Afghan & their supporters the west. The only Indian assistance should be some grant in aids through NGOs for a limited number of years.As to Haddhoboy article it is absurd & absolutely crappy,it is duty of every country when they have their freedom to act responsibly for the welfare of their citizens,acting very irresponsibly for 60 years & allowing violent culture to progress has resulted in this chaos.They should have built their factories,created jobs,provided education which could have alleviated their citizens.I never followed Pakistan strategy of aligning with West.The truth is what goes around comes around.As to fact the flames in Pakistan & Afghanistan will spread to India,The answer is yes it can but i am just reminded of what Kasparov said in a HT leadership meet to keep flames alive you need to have a water pipe of money & resources,i am not sure if both these countries have that to fight India.Resources from India will not be given to them to fight us since we are a different religion.Throwing few bombs may scare people & make foreign investors flee but it can’t make even a small dent to a large country called India where 90% of economy is reliant on internal demands & consumption with 50% of capital of this economy made up by small & medium enterprises spread around 600000 villages & more than 1 lakh towns like we say says “our country can provide for needs not greeds for people”.There is no point talking to Pakistan since their only desire is to harm Indians.We may be near in boundary but far far away in thoughts,minds or in culture.The more distance we maintain with them the more we progress.Our talks with their people will be what Give me Kashmir, Give me water, Say Islam is the greatest religion in the world never mind even if all poorest people belong to that religion & they keep fighting everyday.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive
 

Dara,Finally a sensible post from an Indian, not comments erupting from some kind of hurt national pride.About the aid. Countries are free to contribute as they wish to whatever efforts they wish. The Afghans rubberstamp projects. There is no co-oordination coming from the Afghans. Of course, that’s partly the fault of Afghans. And there’s been a big push on to remedy that situation by trying to get the Afghans to better coordinate their development policies. India could help here by taking on more Afghan priorities rather than Indian priorities (the higway to Iran being an example where Indian priorities trumped Afghan ones).That’s not to say NATO has not been guilty of the same practices, of course. But on our end, we are doing our best to encourage the Afghans to be more independent too. Surely India can help.Interesting comments on the Indian Election Commission. I have met several high ranking retired Indian military officers who’ve made the same points. But to my understanding, India never offered its expertise on this front, in substantial capacity to the UN.You could be right though, that India might have held back because of Pakistani concerns. Ironically though this assistance might be far more valuable from India than any of its development work. Since both would probably offend the Paks just as much, surely there’s a better cost-benefit ratio for India to work on elections than development!

Posted by Keith | Report as abusive
 

U.S. Tries New Tack Against TalibanCoalition Works With Afghan Officials to Offer Militants Jobs and Protection if They Lay Down WeaponsBy ANAND GOPALKABUL — The U.S.-led coalition and the Afghan government are launching an initiative to persuade Taliban insurgents to lay down their weapons, offering jobs and protection to the militants who choose to abandon their fighthttp://online.wsj.com/article/SB125 936488818367181.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLEN exttoWhatsNewsSecondFinally, the NATO allies are getting somewhere. Instead of pumping billions into the insatiable Paks bellies which never helped US in any way with containing terror outfits, is nt it going to be rewarding to provide some form of financial incentives to locals, just the way India is already spearheading in the direction. Now, in terms of locating the whereabouts of Mulla Omar and OBL, learn to speak the language of Paks and Saudis, very simple indeed.Myra,I read Pervez Hudhboys article. Thank you Pervez, I couldnt have said any better:”But most Indians are probably less than enthusiastic in stoking the fires across the border. In fact, the majority would like to forget that Pakistan exists. With a 6 per cent growth rate, booming hi-tech exports, and expectations of a semi-superpower status, they feel India has no need to engage a struggling Pakistan with its endless litany of problems.”

 

@Myra, Keith,The Pakistani’s are so short sighted and daft, fighting a counterproductive enmity with India.If India, Pakistan and the U.S. worked together, it would spell progress on so many levels for all three.In such a case, Kashmir would not even be an issue. Islamic identity or the need for it, has been counterproductive and cost too many lives. It is not worth it. India, Pak and Afghanistan should have ideally, an economic union, like the European countries with open borders. But first the terrorists, militants and madrassas must go and this backwards, unproductive mental infatuation with Islamic identity and Ummah must stop, it is robbing Pakistani’ potential dry and wasting Indian efforts as well as U.S. efforts. and Afghan redevelopment.The Pak Army is the key here, they have to lead this effort to secularize the region and cease and desist these unproductive, unfruitful activities.Religion or political pursuit if it has failed miserably and it is time for a paradigm shift in Pakistan.

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Myra: “You would not expect a country which has its own security and development needs at home (eg the Maoist insurgency) to spend resources in Afghanistan out of pure altruism. So what are India’s interests there? Among the arguments put forward are:1) To keep Pakistan out?2) To use as a base for leaning on Pakistan itself?3) To prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups?4) To secure access to trade and resources in Afghanistan and Central Asia?”Your questions are valid if India has its military presence in Afghanistan. The reason why Western presence is give so much publicity is because they invaded Afghanistan and have been there for 8 years and their military is fighting its enemy even now.It might be very difficult to set up constructive activities there by the Western powers, who do not have the degree of cultural connectivity that India or Pakistan have with Afghans. Pakistan should have offered to help constructively as well. But they had sided with the Taliban earlier and as a result, the current Afghan regime and its supporters will not trust them. And Pakistani units might be targets of revenge. That leaves either India or China. Chinese involvement would have been all right for Pakistan. But the Western allies will want none of that. Iran could have been involved as well. We all know where Iran is in its relationship to the Western allies. That leaves only India. And India has taken up the task of helping rebuild Afghanistan. India supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. India is there to build long term relationship with Afghanistan by engaging in acts of goodwill.Pakistan objects to Indian presence for only one reason. It is really not a threat of being surrounded as some of their posters project it to be. While they mention that reason, they also say that theirs is a nuclear power and can pulverize India against any threat. In fact they have been audacious enough all these years in taking on the Indian military with proxy armies, because of this nuclear empowerment. Musharraf in the interview with Fareed Zakaria says that Indians will never dare attack Pakistan. His assured demeanor clearly shows that Pakistan has no fear of India. But they use this “Indian threat” and being “surrounded by India” as their counter moves in the regional geo-politics. If you understand this from the Indian stand point, you will realize that India will not lower its guard. It is simply a political game. And India has seen Afghanistan under the Taliban as a major threat to its security. So it will make sure that it has some kind of presence there and build on it to prevent future situations that can be as hostile. Indians have not forgotten the hijack of IC184 when the Taliban ruled. Definitely it is a political move by India to gain support and allegiance in the long run. After all Pakistan has always seen India as an enemy and has reacted from that stand point. May be if Pakistan stops looking at India as an enemy state, there is room for lowering tension in the region. Even the American leaders have begun to say this to Pakistan -India is not their enemy. They should probably drum beat this into their ears more and Pakistan will stop demanding unreasonably. The burden is on Pakistan. No one is preventing them from doing constructive projects inside Afghanistan. We Indians do not understand why Pakistan should decide our foreign policy. Will they give up Chinese sponsored activities in their country because we are uncomfortable with it? Keith, let me see if you have anything to say here.

 

Myra,India needs to better articulate what it’s intentions, policies and roles are in Afghanistan. This would help assuage Pakistan (I really don’t think India is there just to needle Pakistan, although there’s probably an element of that). And it would help better co-ordinate their efforts with NATO and the Afghan government. That would be much better than all the ad hoc cooperation going on today.Indeed, if we can understand what India wants to do, NATO may actually be able to help them on various projects, better plan for their security needs, etc. Right now it’s frustrating that nobody’s talking to each other. And that leads to a lot of mistrust and misinterpretation.

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Keith:@what seems to offend the Pakistanis the most, is how omnipresent the Indians are. They are everywhere. It wouldn’t hurt the government of India to be a little more discrete in its aid…maybe channel a bit more through the Afghan government (which would help increase its legitimacy).From your several posts you make two make two points about Indian presence in Afghanistan #1. reducing their visibility and keep on sending aid through Afghan govt, making Pakistanis happier or less anxious and #2. Why should NATO troops baby sit Indian-Pak great game?#1. I have not seen in print media talking about Indian presence as a source of big worries. But I agree with your point of Indian aid through Afgh govt if that helps Afghan govt image. But this point works against your Pakistan POV because they are anti-Karzai, so anything that stabilizes him works against Pakistan’s interests. If I were Singh, as long as Indian projects are running and the Indian aid is not asked to be slashed, I am all for cutting the unnecessary functions. But this will not make Pakistan happy, it has just flower-saving value.Do you know what hurts Pakistan the most? 1. Five Indian consulates (number varies up to 8-50), the source of everything that goes wrong in Pakistan. 2. India’s ability to spend $1bn in Afghanistan on non-military projects that make more Pashtuns looking at India as friend. Pre-9/11 Indian aid was for non-Pashtuns (Nrthern Alliance), Pakistan sees this as major problem.Pakistan has its own experience of being in same boat as Afghanistan (Gawdar port by China), and Pakistanis take that as further evidence of China as their friend. China gives less aid and is considered a friend but not US which gives more aid and gives them more weapons since Pakistanis in general are anti-US. In Afghanistan, India replaces China and Pakistan replaces US. Pakistan’s image is worse in Afghanistan because Pak always destroyed Afghanistan and the evidence is the gallop poll where Pakistan is at the bottom of how much they are liked. Indian work in Afghanistan is making Afghans people and its govt strengthen bonds. To make Pakistan happy, consulates has to be reduced to 1 and aid stopped. Pakistan’s demands directly match with Taliban’s—- both want India to get out of Afghanistan.So reduced Indian presence is not what Pakistan wants, rather it wants absence of Indian presence.#2. NATO losing precious lives, time and respources for India for India-Pak game. First off, it is commendable that NATO risking/losing lives for Indian projects in Afgh. I am pretty sure Indian presence is not in way of NATO achieving its goals there. Call it babysitting India-Pak great game, you got to keep this on because Afghans may or may not give credit to NATO for protecting Indians who are involved in projects, but NATO will surely get discredit for not protecting Indians who are helping Afghanistan reconstruction.You suggest an option below.@ For example, if it’s willing to deploy forces to Afghanistan if the US leaves, than why not now? Or is their commitment to Afghan development limited to the US/NATO presence there?–This works against Pakistan becoming less anxious about India. That is the reason that from day 1 after 9/11, Pakistan’s demand from US and the policy of US/NATO of not involving Indian troops and that has been PK with India and all parties. Is there a suggestion by US/NATO? I do not see any. But for the sake of discussion, India taking care of its security of Indians in Afgh with zero help from NATO et al would mean a significant number of Indian troops and you know that having Sikh regiment in Afghanistan is going to send Pakistanis through the roof. Also, that would mean more Pakistani ISI backed and Taliban-backed attacks against Indian troops and that is going to indirectly affect NATO troops missions. So that option is also off.Qn to you: Why not take Pakistan’s help in Afghanistan? Is it due to India at the LoC problem or is it that Pakistan not willing to work against Afgh-Taliban?One cannot wish away that regional rivalries disappear just because one wishes. NATO walked into the problem and has to face it just like people in the region are facing the consequences of US/NATO foreign troops walking into Afghanistan.Again, these small moves (Indian visibility) are not going to help Pakistan. Pakistan’s best bet is positive involvement in Afghanistan. I do not know what they have to offer to Afghanistan.One thing that comes to my mind is that if majority of the Afghans (especially Pashtuns) are anti-Taliban, Pakistan can come out open against Taliban and that is going to be everyone’s goal and will take care of India-Pak, US-Pak tension too. Pakistan can start playing the game at political level rather than blowing up people and buildings.

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Mr. Dara, you write: “The Election Commisssion has tremendous experience in this regard; what with battling naxalites, insurgents and the criminal-politicl nexus. In fact because of the law and order problem and the resources required for it, India has now gone onto staggering the whole process. It is cumbersome but the end has justified the means. This exercise also includes positioning of teams and election machinery in very inhospitable terrain and hostile conditions. The Indian Election Commission, may have other faults but has a spectacular record in conducting free, fair and peaceful elections. In fact very few states today can perhaps match it in scale or efficacy.”I am sorry to disagree. The Westerners might be naive in admiring the glorious Indian democracy. But those of us who are from this region know what goes on in this grand democratic circus. It is no different from that in Afghanistan or Pakistan or Bangladesh. People are so illiterate that they are voting for movie actors, criminal dons, bandits, corrupt goons etc. Most people stay away from participation. Most do not vote and their votes are taken by goons. Military has to be brought in many places to protect the election officials.They have a famous thing called horse trading where corrupt politicians are bought with ton loads of money and people jump from one party to another like monkeys.In short, Indian democracy is a joke. Pakistan’s democracy too is a joke. There is nothing surprising about Afghanistan. India going there to help run elections is like a thief trying to teach another thief how to steal.Afghanistan will revert back to tribal system once all this drama of western democracy ends. Pakistanis never liked the Western democracy. It just did not work. India has a namesake democracy. But for a majority of their political years they were ruled by one family and one dynasty. So in all, democracy is a joke in the sub-continent where some people are above others and cannot be held accountable. It just does not fit our cultures. So I do not understand why the US and its allies are running a farcical drama of elections there. The Taliban will return to power and there are already signs of it emerging. Sorry Indians, you will need to close down your missions in Afghanistan pretty soon. It is better to leave now rather than get kicked out.

 

@One argument that comes up frequently is that western countries should withdraw their troops, secure their borders and do their best to prevent attacks at home with strong domestic counter-terrorism strategies rather than fighting an unpopular war far away.”The United States is probably best placed to do this, Britain less so; but the two countries which would be most vulnerable to any resurgence of al Qaeda and other Islamist groups in Afghanistan would be Pakistan and India.”"It would be interesting to know how people in Afghanistan see things, but I don’t think we have many regular Afghan contributors. If so, please speak up.”–MyraMyra: I see you are getting ready to pack up. I am not an Afghan, but suerly none in the region will ever forgive the west including those who did drum beating for the war.Rule is that if one cannot mop it up, one ought not to splatter. The west has done the splattering part–generously and piping hot form Iraq to Pakistan, save Iran that escaped due to recession. It remains to be seen how good they are at mopping. this piping hot s..t. Knowing the nature of enemy and I have grave doubts in the ability of the West.But then perhaps, the West thinks it is someone else’s house.@You would not expect a country which has its own security and development needs at home (eg the Maoist insurgency) to spend resources in Afghanistan out of pure altruism. So what are India’s interests there? Among the arguments put forward are:1) To keep Pakistan out?2) To use as a base for leaning on Pakistan itself?3) To prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups?4) To secure access to trade and resources in Afghanistan and Central Asia?You can see how points 1 & 2 seem much more threatening from a Pakistani point of view than points 3 & 4.Taking that further, you can even see the possibility of a convergence of interests between India and Pakistan on points 3 & 4 but not on points 1 & 2.”-MyraMyra: people have responded to these questions already and you do not take the discussion forward.”Points 1 & 2 seem much more threatening from a Pakistani point of view ..” is Pakistan’s problem to fix their paranoia. you are also assuming that Indian in means Pakistan out. Is India running terror organizations to force Pakistan out. Pakistan is out because pakistan is out. Logical right? so do not drum beat their paranoia and assume the way Pakistan does. CHina and India are not dear friends but they are in Afghanistan, right? what the hell is problem with Pakistan. Let us move beyoynd poetic explanations like “percepetions”.

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Correction to my eralier post to Keith:”In Afghanistan, India replaces China and Afghanistan replaces Pakistan.”

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Myra:@1) To keep Pakistan out?2) To use as a base for leaning on Pakistan itself?3) To prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a haven for al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups?4) To secure access to trade and resources in Afghanistan and Central Asia?You can see how points 1 & 2 seem much more threatening from a Pakistani point of view than points 3 & 4.”Myra: In #1 and #2, you start with a wrong assumption that if India in Afghanistan means Pakistan is out. Now CHina is in Afghanistan, should India take that as India out. I will like to hear why you think so.Let us quit perception part for a change. There is a limit to it.Now I will appreciate if you have my message posted.

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India is a developing country. All analysis of India as a superpower or an important entity in world politics is based on future actions and results. Any wrong major step by India will be detrimental in its growth and future predictions.The government of India should get out of Afghanistan and provide the money it is gifting to Afghanistan, to the poor in India. NGOs and private companies can take care of humanitarian needs. Ego and false pride should not make India over-exert and exhaust itself in a conflict which has brought the NATO to its feet.

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Mr Anjum,”People are so illiterate that they are voting for movie actors, criminal dons, bandits, corrupt goons etc. Most people stay away from participation. Most do not vote and their votes are taken by goons. Military has to be brought in many places to protect the election officials”How is the election commission resposible for who should stand and whom one should vote for? If the military or any force has to be brought in that is to the credit of the EC that they take adequate measures.What you refer to is perhaps the standards to which politics has been lowered, there you have a valid point and I agree. But the EC cannot be blamed for that.

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Dara,The point of Anjum is Valid as you said.The EC has a responsibility in driving democracy within the party system. Unless they take measures to solidify internal party dynamics the quality of representatives are going to be abysmal.A bigger bold move could be state funding elections so fighting election through illgotten money can be avoided.But at same time i do think Certain acts like RTI, UID, etc can reduce incidence of public scams.I would think our society may need 50 more years before we can claim matured democracy will be attained.But the faith that this is right way to do it is to be strenghthened.Like what Arihant says India is still a country replete with many challenges, the aspirations projected in media or by a limited number of people that we can influence outcomes in International Politics is to me very foolish.We got to lie low & build a stronger base in terms of economy,education & arresting erosion in public values.Going away from afghanistan is the right thing to do.

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I say we take care of our INdian TAliban before we go to some godforsaken country like afgh to sort out their problems. Mark my words if we don’t fix our TAliban which are the Naxalites and Maosists there will be no INdia left what to talk about super power. Fix farmers problems first.

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Rajeev,You have suggested that the India-Pakistan manoeuvering in Afghanistan should be viewed in light of all the regional competitions and alliances (ie China in Pakistan, Pakistan in Sri Lanka).A lot of talk has been focused on India’s right to be in Afghanistan, or it’s right to have a visible presence there, etc. Nobody here is disputing India’s right to do anything. It’s a sovereign state and it can deal with Afghanistan as it wishes. The suggestions I’ve made are ways that I see that India can better co-operate and integrate its efforts with the other partners and allies in the region. They are, of course, free to take those suggestions or not.Then these are the questions I’ve been asking:1) Is this India’s intention in Afghanistan or their primary policy driver? Are they there solely to counter/encircle Pakistan or is that a secondary driver/benefit?2) If 1 is true, then should NATO stay in Afghanistan? What’s the point of having young lads from Alberta and Saskatchewan baby-sitting a great game between India and Pakistan? Keep in mind this is not just about the US. Canada has taken the highest per capita casualties of any NATO partner in Afghanistan (twice that of the US and UK in Iraq).Nobody has yet answered the two questions together.

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M. Anjum:“People are so illiterate that they are voting for movie actors, criminal dons, bandits, corrupt goons etc. Most people stay away from participation. Most do not vote and their votes are taken by goons. Military has to be brought in many places to protect the election officials”Americans voted for Reagan. Californians voted for the Terminator. Does that mean their democracy is flawed?If that’s your standard then why have democracy at all?Democracy is a process. What it produces is left up to the people. But ultimately the beauty of democracy is that the people get the government the want and deserve. And really what’s the alternative? Has military rule really worked out that well in Pakistan?To quote Winston Churchill:Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.

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Arihant SinghYou got it wrong. It is the necessity mate, not ego or pride.Trade and security is the name of the game if you will. Imagine having another hostile nation in its backyard as we can see clearly religion will factor in. A hostile Afghan will be detrimental mainly because of security concerns, partly because of restrictions that maybe imposed to its trade movements. In a difficult neighborhood there are not many options. Inspite of pressure from others India is not pushing Myanmar towards democracy, for example. Have you heard of this expression- “in our national interest?”. Im sure you did. Already Pak refuses our trucks to traverse their nation hampering our trade. Our access to central asia will be completely blocked if Afghans turn away from us.Thanks to technology I watch Indian TV channels LIVE on the web and read all News papers. As if Afghan doesn’t exist, I have nt seen any Indian politician or bureaucrat ever talking about Afghanistan in general or Indias aid in particular, so where is the jingoism and bragging other than quiet diplomacy here. If Afghans want Indians to cease all developmental activities, India will do so. I agree with you, and I was thinking like you before. Sadly, the needs of Indians will keep mounting, with the population growing leaps and bounds. Poverty is there but not much of hunger with food subsidiary programs operating in full swing. Holistic approach is needed for its size. It is like buying the satellites from others for ever to save costs of running its own sat programs, certainly not economical in the long run. Now there is foreign exchange coming in from the expensive satellite program. The leaders in Satallite te technology are refusing technology transfer to India under pseudo pretext of “duel use concerns”. Whereas in reality they see competition in the business and want to thwart the same. Stop buying Paks bluff….

 

“To quote Winston Churchill:Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”FALSE — If you care to find out than try to do little research on the Umar Farooq (He was Prophets companion p.b.u.h.) read that, to me that was the time when the PERFECT system of rule was practised.Democracy is good, but only if its true, NOT hijacked by few as it is the case in most poor countries. How about Hamas being DEMOCRATICLY elecetd by the Gazans. So what hapenned to your democracy? NO western wants to embrace that democracy but dont care dammn about the rulers in Egypt 30years dictatorship, Saudis, Pakis and so many more. Democracy is just Western pretext, Capitilism, rich getting richer and poor gettins poor. So thanks but no thanks, If you know whats BEST for you then we know whats best. CALIPHATE!!! is the solution to Islamic world.Now to the blogg..Till their is NO regional strategy Afghanistan will be as it is. EspecilLay when you Indians/Pakistani both for their right reason trying to have more say in Afghanistan. NATO/US so on will move on sooner or later just like the USSR but we will have to live in this region and also live with the consequences.Indian seriously need to get out of their hollow minds that Kashmir is theres,was or ever will be. Kashmir is for kashmiris how hard is that! By sending in your army enables you to claim part of the land than I guess British would have owned the world. But as per UN resoultion of self determination which is surley a democratic way of getting concensus what the Kashmiris want in ALL of Kashmir and work on it from there. More than India/Pakistan it is the Kashmiris that have suffered from both sides. Its their land, their Kashmir ONLY they should decide what they want.By writing essays from idiots will not change the Kashmiris minds, when their sister/mother/daughetrs are raped by cowrds indian soldiers. Their brothers/sons/ father shot and than labelled terrorist and any anti indianleader under house arrest and the people can NOT even allowed to pray. It easy for the idiots to say all Kashmiris are terrorists kos their religion is Islam. As the world media portrays them terrorists so maybe little easie for the people in west to buy that. But if one has been to Kashmir they will know the reallty.So sort the MAIN issue of Kashmir the rest is walkover. Be it in the graves of empires, afghanistan or any other problem. It is minor the rest of issues water sharing, terrorists and so on.

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Keith. I will answer your queries.1. Honestly, we have our own strategic reasons to go to afgh beside road building to help the trade to iran. Like any other super power we also like to influence others for our own benefit. you can not deny that is our right too. Biggest benefit is to keep the Paki ISI from recruiting new taliban to fight in kashmir and our motherland.2. Soon we will have enough influence and good will in afgh that we will not need the NATO soldiers. Then you can go. Afgh will say good bye to you and welcome us with garlands. We will drop our own brave NSG commandos in afgh when NATO leave to safeguard our own projects. Then you will see how to wipe out the terrorists.

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Mr. Keith you write: “Americans voted for Reagan. Californians voted for the Terminator. Does that mean their democracy is flawed?”American system is set up such that anyone can be a head of state, but the laws of the land take care of most of the public needs. And it is unique to the American culture. Every culture has some uniqueness and things become successful only if they fit into that cultural uniqueness. If the US had been run over by the Southerners in the 1860s, it would have evolved very differently. It probably would have ended up like Mexico or some of the South American countries. It came pretty close to collapse when Lincoln was President. They have managed to come out of it and their independence in terms of resources, isolation from the other parts of the world etc helped them evolve with time. Cultures in the sub-continent are very ancient and they have their own uniqueness. That is why a Western style democracy struggles to survive there. Here too Reagan like leaders come to power. But they are mostly like war lords with a lot of muscle power and loyalty. Imagine Reagan with such powers. Indians would agree with me if I quote Indira Gandhi who was almost like a tyrant. We had our Bhutto who was no less in that regard. These kind of leaders love backwardness and poverty so that they can champion those causes while keeping them alive in order to strengthen their hold on power. Look at how their lives ended. This is the culture in the sub-continent. That is why trying to fit in a puppet democracy in Afghanistan makes no sense. In the case of India, the people chose one family to rule them for more than 75% of their “democratic” history. In the case of Pakistan, we put our faith in the military for the same reason. Afghanistan has the tribal system that has worked there for centuries. If they fight each other, that is the way it has been. It is not new. Might is right in this neighborhood.”If that’s your standard then why have democracy at all?”That is my question too. Do you understand why Pakistanis feel comfortable under the military? Do you understand why Indians feel comfortable under one family’s dynastic rule? Even their cook can be politically powerful. These are not really democracies in the real sense. These are ancient systems that bear the facade of democracy, but they function according to the cultural mindset of the people. Hero worship is a big thing here.”Democracy is a process. What it produces is left up to the people. But ultimately the beauty of democracy is that the people get the government the want and deserve. And really what’s the alternative? Has military rule really worked out that well in Pakistan?”Democracy was not brought from Mars and imposed on to the Western nations and “civilize” them. It evolved within their culture on its own. A European Union can blossom in that setting. It is only a Utopian idea in this part of the world. I can bet in India people elect leaders because they have limited choice to make. I do read Indian newspapers a lot and I have a good understanding of what goes on there. Indians, of course, will be very proud and will try to hide their drawbacks. Politicians there are no different from the War lords of Afghanistan or the generals in Pakistan. People can be cheated with promises. Many movie actors there do it and they do not deliver when they get to power. If no one is looking, elections get rigged. That is what happened in Kashmir in 1989 and the people rebelled.Democracy is definitely a great institution. I do not question that. I only look at it from the view point of suiting the culture of this land. It does not. Or the culture is not ready for it yet. In 1991, India almost faced a collapse with no leader in sight. They were so used to figure heads that there was a massive vacuum when their young national leader was assassinated. I’d say that opening up the economy was an attempt to survive and it clicked. That is all. And politicians did not have the time to recover from the momentum it gained. So Indians lucked out.Pakistan would have done well under a dictator too. We did not have our Pinochet or Trajuillo. And we got sucked into the global wars. Our country and Afghanistan had become the battle fields of world’s powers. Otherwise, Pakistan has all the resources to emerge as an economic power. Who cares what system is good so long as economy is good? Look at China. They do not have democracy, but are doing better than Americans now. That is all matters for this land.Myra,Sorry for pushing the topic away towards democracy. May be you should do an article on why democracy is a farce in the sub-continent and its effects on the current situation.

 

Keith:I also commented on your another question. any comments.here it is again:@ For example, if it’s willing to deploy forces to Afghanistan if the US leaves, than why not now? Or is their commitment to Afghan development limited to the US/NATO presence there?–This works against Pakistan becoming less anxious about India. That is the reason that from day 1 after 9/11, Pakistan’s demand from US and the policy of US/NATO of not involving Indian troops and that has been PK with India and all parties. Is there a suggestion by US/NATO? I do not see any. But for the sake of discussion, India taking care of its security of Indians in Afgh with zero help from NATO et al would mean a significant number of Indian troops and you know that having Sikh regiment in Afghanistan is going to send Pakistanis through the roof. Also, that would mean more Pakistani ISI backed and Taliban-backed attacks against Indian troops and that is going to indirectly affect NATO troops missions. So that option is also off.Indian troops in Afghanistan works against your suggestion of making Pakistani less anxious.

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Who cares what system is good so long as economy is good? Look at China. They do not have democracy, but are doing better than Americans now. That is all matters for this land.- Posted by Mohammed AnjumCan you please keep INdia/Nepal/B’desh/Srilanka/Bhutan/AFgha nistan/Burma out of your subcontinent theory and keep the theory confined to your borders. We are proud of our faulty system and trying to make it better. 1989 is not repeated since 1989.You make a perfect case for Pakistan’s integration in to China. There is no vision, no value or contribution to have an independent nation called Pakistan. At least if you merge with Pakistan, they might share their toxic dollars with you.

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Then these are the questions I’ve been asking:1) Is this India’s intention in Afghanistan or their primary policy driver? Are they there solely to counter/encircle Pakistan or is that a secondary driver/benefit?2) If 1 is true, then should NATO stay in Afghanistan? What’s the point of having young lads from Alberta and Saskatchewan baby-sitting a great game between India and Pakistan? Keep in mind this is not just about the US. Canada has taken the highest per capita casualties of any NATO partner in Afghanistan (twice that of the US and UK in Iraq).Nobody has yet answered the two questions together.- Posted by KeithResp 1: India’s role in Afghanistan has nothing to do Pakistan or China. Even if Pakistan didn’t exist, we would have been doing what we are doing and any sensible democracy would do that. Our main goal is to not allow the Talibans kidnap the Afghan society again. So we are helping them anyway they ask for till they are strong enough to stand on their leg and fight the Talibans. We’ll stop helping when Afghans when they ask. I believe these are the goals of US/NATO/Civilized world too.India has no hidden agenda other than development and stability of Afghanistan. India has two different and distinct policies for Afghanistan and Pakistan they don’t criss-cross.So I agree, we should work closely work with US/NATO and complement their efforts in Afghanistan. We all sink together or swim together.Resp 2: We can’t ask you to stay in Afghanistan. You guys are making a lot of sacrifices and it breaks our heart too. But we’d like you to stay and finish the job so that you never have to return in future. And that is why India is there: to complement US/NATO work so that they can leave faster and Afghans can be on their own.But I think it is wrong to think that India is in Afghanistan to play any kind of game with Pakistan (Please provide any evidence if you have?). You can’t blame India if Pakistan bombs up Indian embassies or kills Indian road construction engineers.We have our share of sad and painful experiences with Talibans and we just don’t want to see Talibans kidnap a nascent country again. We’ll leave Afghanistan when they stand on their legs. We don’t have military bases in B’desh or Nepal or Bhutan nor do we plan to have one in Afghanistan.

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@Mr. Keith you write: “Americans voted for Reagan. Californians voted for the Terminator. Does that mean their democracy is flawed?”American system is set up such that anyone can be a head of state,-Anjum–NO, practically speaking Christians only.In India, religion is not bar, if you know India so well.

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“Cultures in the sub-continent are very ancient and they have their own uniqueness. That is why a Western style democracy struggles to survive there” – Posted by Mohammed AnjumDemocracy has nothing to do with cultures or uniqueness of various regions/countries. But for democracy to become perfect, a progressive & literate society is a must. The more advanced, developed & literate the country, the more flawless it’s democracy becomes. There’s an inverse relationship between literacy & quality of democracy. That’s why democracy in developed countries nations like US, Canada, EU countries, Japan etc are close to being perfect, whereas they are quite flawed in lesser developed countries like India and Pakistan. In case of India, it’s recent development & rise in literacy levels are starting to reflect in the quality of it’s democracy as well, although it still has a long long way to go.@In the case of India, the people chose one family to rule them for more than 75% of their “democratic” history”The operative word here is ‘chose’. It’s the free will of the people to choose whoever they wish as their representatives & leaders and the last time I checked, that’s the very definition of democracy. If the people put faith in one particular set of people repeatedly, so be it. But Indian democracy is maturing & people have started to choose, based on the performance of the administrations. The last couple of elections are a testament to it; the BJB didn’t deliver & the people didn’t bring them back to power in 2004 but the Congress did deliver & so the people brought them back to power, earlier this year. Also, it’s wrong to say that democracy doesn’t fit with Islamic societies/nations. Progressive Muslim nations with rising literacy levels can have a proper functional democracy & countries like Turkey & Indonesia prove this.

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1) Is this India’s intention in Afghanistan or their primary policy driver? Are they there solely to counter/encircle Pakistan or is that a secondary driver/benefit?2) If 1 is true, then should NATO stay in Afghanistan? What’s the point of having young lads from Alberta and Saskatchewan baby-sitting a great game between India and Pakistan? Keep in mind this is not just about the US. Canada has taken the highest per capita casualties of any NATO partner in Afghanistan (twice that of the US and UK in Iraq).Nobody has yet answered the two questions together.- Posted by Keith==Keith, trying to make a distinction between primary or secondary goal for India is like splitting hair. We cannot alter geography, and we got a country with militarism, war mongering and terrorism as primary national activities. Our engagment in Afghnaistan is to alleviate this threat.You have a very valid argument about the need for India to co-operate, be flexible since your soldiers are dying.MR.ANJUM:You are clueless about local Indian politics. There are some states that are truly bad and there are prosperous states where competence matters where smart politicians compete with each other focussing on the economic development.You are basing your opinions on sensationalistic bad news items. Election commision is a fiercely independent organization in India and all politcal parties including the ruling parties abide it.Because of democracy at the local level only people in such diverse country feel empowered and have a sense of ownership. Kashmiris have been misguided and are turning around.

 

Correction:There’s a direct relation between literacy and quality of democracy, not inverse.

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Anjum:”It is only a Utopian idea in this part of the world.” and all your related ideas ….1 — very glib anjum, your ideas are like pseudo-science :) Sounds and looks grand but without substance – for the history of democracy in the Indian sub-continent (and indeed Asia) I refer you to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s “Argumentative Indian”. Please educate yourself on how democracy has been native to India since time of Ashoka!2 — pakistan’s political system is comparable to african nations and not a mature democracy such as India. In India, the prime minister can sack heads of armed forces (Admiral Bhagwat) but in pakistan’s nawaz sharif sacks Musharraf – he ends up in jail. I do admire the unique pakistani army 111 brigade based in Rawalpindi who are specialist in coups – participated in 4 coups till date! :)3 — India has non-gandhi PMs for 20 years not 75% – get some maths class4 — Indian politics also has people like mayawati, narasimha rao, vajpayee who start at the lowest rung of society to head the country. Pakistan has only seen feudal lords as PM – be it bhutto or gilaniYou can keep dreaming about comparing yourself with India – but as the US ambassador to pakistan said in an interview last month – there is a wide gap between pak and India and it is rapidly increasing.

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