There are no permanent friends or foes in international politics, but the interests are. It has been amply displayed by India and Afghanistan while dashing another move on the strategic chessboard of South Asian Region. It is same Hamid Karzai, whose election to the presidential slot of Afghanistan for the second time had been silently opposed by India in opposition to Abdullah Abdullah, the Tajik titan, while Pakistan was reported to be in side with the former. During one of his visits to Pakistan, Karzai had passionately stated that “Pakistan and Afghanistan are conjoined brothers.” Today, he is again in India seen signing a strategic partnership pact. At the agreement signing ceremony, Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Indian premier, said that terrorism was being used “as an instrument of policy against our citizens,” again maligning Pakistan without naming it. “The deal,” he said, “creates an institutional framework for our future cooperation.” He also notified that agreements on energy and mining add a new dimension to our economic relations and that, “India will stand by the people of Afghanistan as they prepare to assume the responsibility for their governance and security after the withdrawal of international forces in 2014.”
The agreement should not be viewed and analysed on face value. There are yawning motivations for it. On the one hand, American people are too wary of the “3-trillion dollar” war, which brings home nothing but coffins of the American youth with not even a meagre yield of the gory toil in sight, let alone a politico-military victory. Americans want to go home in a state of stalemate before that it turns into a recorded rout or semblance of defeat. America’s drawdown diagram has upset both India and Karzai. India looks at the US presence in Afghanistan as a licence to its presence therein. For Karzai, the presidential palace is assured haven till such time that the Americans are operating at full strength in Afghanistan. If they go home, Karzai may have to take the last flight of US Army to run his restaurant in New York again. New Delhi too is not a bad option. This is how the interests of India and Karzai are seeking convergence in regional politics. Thus, the End-Game in Afghanistan is heralding a new Start-Game.
India is seeking an enhanced role in Afghanistan. It has already made noteworthy inroads into Afghan polity and society spending nearly US$2 billion out of the coffers that could have been spent on well-being of the socially deprived, economically underprivileged and homeless Indians who sleep in their millions on the footpaths of major metropolitans like Bombay, Kolkata and New Delhi. Geo-politics has prevailed over human security, courtesy to the expansionist Indian mindset. Anyway, Indian polity is leaving clear signatures that it is not going to leave space for anyone else on the podium of regional strategic speech-board. Certainly, it is trying to heap up political capital against none else but Pakistan. Principally, Pakistan cannot object to Afghan alignment with anyone including India. Yet, it has to keep note of any such move or arrangement that could breed a snake in its backyard. India understands that Karzai, though a Pashtun, does not represent popular Pashtun sentiment in Afghanistan. But a “strategic partnership” would keep the glow of India’s case alive under the ashes of history that could be set ablaze any time the sun of India’s goodwill shone in the heart of an Afghan polity in the days to come. This would let India keep a strong foot in Afghanistan. It has already deployed an Indian Air Force squadron on Ayni Air Base of Tajikistan. Deployment of one more on Bagram Air Base after American retreat would sound even more viable! India-Karzai agreement has also shown that they would continue to project “terrorism” as “instrument of Pakistan.” Actually, this is what all India wants Karzai to do; continue crying wolf and we would do the remaining part of the job.
What Pakistan needs to do under the present circumstances is not far from one’s reflection. It needs to create stronger-than-ever nexus with Afghan populace irrespective of their caste or creed. Meagre Kabul-Jalalabad Highway would not do enough to reach out to the spectacles of Afghan mind. They need more. Our politico-bureaucratic institutions need to think beyond political and military lines. There is abundant room along societal welfare line. It is indeed irony of the fate that while millions are Afghans are still living in Pakistan as refugees and their president, who too reportedly owns property in Quetta and Peshawar, goes and signs an agreement with India, which bears anti-Pakistan smell. We must remember that clock never clicks the same hour again in the gallops of history.The writer holds master’s degree in Strategic Security Studies from the College of International Security.
By Ehsan Mehmood Khan
Affairs, Washington D.C. and is pursuing M.Phil in International Relations from Faculty of Contemporary Studies, Islamabad.