November 20, 2014

India Has An Economic Vision For Afghanistan, Pakistan Only Has Bullets And Bombs To Offer

An excerpt from, "India and Pakistan 'battle' for Afghanistan" by Shamil Shams, DW, November 19, 2014:
"There is nothing new about Pakistan's Afghanistan policy though. The country's military and civil establishment, analysts say, still consider the Taliban an important strategic ally, who they think should be part of the Afghan government after the NATO pullout. Observers say that the Pakistani military hopes to regain the influence in Kabul it once enjoyed before the United States and its allies toppled the pro-Pakistan Taliban government in 2001.

"Kabul is friendlier towards New Delhi now, whereas Islamabad continues to back the Taliban, as now officially admitted by Sartaj Aziz. Pakistan wishes to change this scenario and turn Afghanistan into its political backyard once again," London-based journalist and researcher Farooq Sulehria told DW."

Matt Waldman, a researcher on the Afghanistan conflict at Harvard University, believes that Pakistan won't relinquish its support for the Taliban until the regional dynamics undergo a transformation. "The evidence indicates that the Pakistan hasn't fundamentally changed its Afghanistan policy," Waldman told DW.

Siegfried O. Wolf, a political science expert at Heidelberg University, is of the same view. He told DW that he was convinced that several elements within the Pakistan security apparatus still believe that the Taliban could be used as a strategic tool to counter Indian presence in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, New Delhi announced a two billion USD aid package for Afghanistan - the biggest India has ever given to another country.

While India has been active in rebuilding Afghanistan since 2001, Pakistan's role has been negligible in this regard, says Sulehria. "By backing the Taliban, Islamabad has contributed to the country's destruction. I frequently visit Kabul and I can say that Pakistan is very unpopular in Afghanistan. Sadly, Islamabad is not ready to change course," the expert added.
An excerpt from a speech by Indian diplomat G. Parthasarathy at the "2013 Securing Asia conference":
So what have we done? We've come to a basic conclusion. We want to integrate Afghanistan with the rest of South Asia, to provide access of South Asia to Central Asia, and to be a developmental partner of South Asia. What we're looking at within South Asia is a free trade area ranging from Kabul to Dhaka and Colombo, and externally westwards to the Maldives, to link up with India's larger policy of a free trade area extending through Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and up to Japan, an integrated market from Manila to Kabul. That is a vision which is the only way forward, not at looking at Kabul and Afghanistan isolated in a South Asia, India-Pakistan context."