h1

Indo-Pakistan Proxy War Heats Up In Afghanistan

April 27, 2010

Tim Sullivan

KABUL — Across Afghanistan, behind the obvious battles fought for this country’s soul, a shadow war is being quietly waged. It’s being fought with spies and proxies, with hundreds of millions of dollars in aid money and ominous diplomatic threats.

The fight pits nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan against one another in a battle for influence that will almost certainly gain traction as the clock ticks down toward America’s military withdrawal, which President Barack Obama has announced will begin next year.

The clash has already sparked bloody militant attacks, and American officials fear the region could become further destabilized. With Pakistani intelligence maintaining ties to Afghanistan’s Taliban militants, India has threatened to draw Iran, Russia and other nations into the competition if an anti-Indian government comes to power in Kabul.

“This is a delicate game going on here,” said Daoud Muradian, a senior adviser to the Afghan Foreign Ministry. He spoke wearily about how Afghanistan, a mountainous crossroads linking South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia, has for centuries often been little more than a stage for other countries’ power struggles. “We don’t want to be forced to choose between India and Pakistan.”

For both India and Pakistan, Afghanistan is an exceedingly valuable prize.

To India, ties with Kabul mean new trade routes, access to Central Asia’s vast energy reserves and a way to stave off the rise of Islamic militancy. It means the chance for New Delhi to undermine Islamabad as it nurtures its superpower aspirations by expanding its regional influence.

While Pakistan is also desperate for new energy supplies, its Afghan policy has been largely shaped by the view that Afghanistan is its natural ally. The two countries share a long border, overwhelmingly Muslim populations and deep ethnic links.

Then there is fear. Pakistan and India have already fought three wars over the past seven decades, and Pakistani military leaders are terrified of someday being trapped militarily between India on one border and a pro-India Afghanistan on the other.

“We can’t afford an unfriendly government in Afghanistan,” said Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan.

The shadow war began in earnest in the wake of the 2001 U.S. invasion, when the Taliban government was forced from power and New Delhi began courting Afghanistan’s new leaders. It was a move into a country that Islamabad, a fierce supporter of the Taliban government, had seen as its diplomatic territory for two decades. But New Delhi quickly became a close ally of President Hamid Karzai, who will travel to India early next week for talks aimed at strengthening ties between the two countries.

On the surface, both India and Pakistan are bringing help to a country that desperately needs it.

New Delhi has built highways in the western deserts and brought electricity to Kabul. It is constructing a new Parliament building and offers free medical care in clinics across Afghanistan. Despite its immense spending needs — India has widespread poverty and staggering infrastructure problems despite its rapidly growing economy — it has given more than $1.3 billion in development aid.

That, in turn, has sparked Pakistani efforts, with Islamabad spending about $350 million on everything from school textbooks to buses.

But this is far from pure humanitarianism.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, laid out the situation bluntly: “While Indian activities largely benefit the Afghan people, increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures,” he warned in a report late last year.

Heightened tensions are the last thing the U.S. wants. The Afghan war has killed more than 1,800 coalition soldiers — more than 1,100 of them Americans. More than 2,400 Afghan civilians were killed just last year.

If the competition over Afghanistan is rooted in a cocktail of issues, much of it revolves around the Taliban.

New Delhi’s perceptions of modern Afghanistan have been molded by its memories of the 1996-2001 Taliban government, the fundamentalist Muslim regime which rose to power with Pakistan’s help.

It was a time when New Delhi was openly despised in Kabul, when anti-India insurgents trained in Afghan camps and the hijackers of an Indian airliner were welcomed here as heroes. Even after the Taliban government fell, Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, retained links to the Taliban insurgency now battling the American-led forces and the Karzai government, in case the Taliban ever return to power.

But if there’s one thing New Delhi does not want, it’s another militant Islamic government in Kabul.

“We want the stabilization of Afghanistan because it is directly related to our security. Plain and simple,” said Jayant Prasad, the Indian ambassador to Afghanistan, speaking inside his heavily guarded Kabul residence.

India has paid heavily for its Afghan involvement. The Indian Embassy was bombed in 2008 and again last year, leaving 75 people dead. Six Indians were killed by militants during the construction of an India-funded highway.

Two Kabul guest houses popular among Indians have been attacked. The last attack, in February, left at least six Indians dead and forced New Delhi to temporarily close its medical and teaching missions in Kabul. India blamed that attack on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, the same group believed to be behind the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.

India and the United States have both said the embassy attacks were carried out by militants allied to Pakistan’s ISI.

The Pakistanis “are bringing the proxy war to Afghanistan and we are the targets,” said Prasad.

It’s an accusation that Pakistan angrily denies.

“India has always used Afghanistan against us,” said Sadiq, the Pakistani ambassador.

Karzai has made little secret of his preference for India. The president, who was educated in India, has loudly welcomed New Delhi’s assistance while rarely mentioning Pakistan’s aid.

Other Afghan officials barely disguise their distrust of Pakistan.

Pakistan wants “a puppet state in Kabul, a subservient state,” said Muradian, the foreign ministry adviser. “India wants a stable, pluralistic Afghanistan.”

Certainly, India has shown it is willing to play diplomatic hardball.

Even India’s allies say New Delhi has a large presence in Afghanistan from its foreign intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, or RAW. At least one victim of the February guest house attack was an undercover RAW agent, a senior Afghan official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

According to Islamabad, many of those agents are providing support to separatist militants in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province — an accusation New Delhi denies.

The reality remains murky. Pakistan keeps Baluchistan largely sealed off to outsiders. Western diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, say Indian intelligence is believed to be in contact with the Baluchi separatists, though it’s unclear if they provide any support.

India also is keeping in reserve its longtime links to Afghan warlords, in case Afghanistan is again divided by violence.

For years, New Delhi supplied the leaders of the Northern Alliance, the collection of ethnic militias that battled the Taliban (and often one another), with food, intelligence and medical care. Later, after the Alliance helped the U.S. oust the Taliban in 2001, the warlords scattered into government and business — and sometimes into crime or exile.

But India remains in close contact with a range of the former militia leaders, according to people with close ties to New Delhi’s foreign policy elite, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

New Delhi’s biggest worry is that U.S. forces will withdraw from Afghanistan before Karzai’s government is in full control of the country. An early withdrawal, India fears, could allow Islamabad and the Taliban militants to gain more power in Afghanistan and potentially even usher in another government hostile to New Delhi.

While a full American pullout appears unlikely anytime soon, U.S. military officials have angered New Delhi by talking about the possibility of allowing some Taliban to join the Afghan government.

India warns it could form a coalition with Iran — an alliance that would infuriate Washington — if the Taliban appear poised to return to power. The “self-interested coalition” could include Russia and several Central Asian states that would also fear a Taliban return, according to an Indian with knowledge of the diplomatic maneuvering.

For now, though, India’s program to win Afghan hearts and minds is clearly working.

Take the three Indian doctors working in the dusty northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif, dispensing prescriptions and performing surgeries in a faded colonial-era hospital that somehow survived the years of fighting.

Every morning, clusters of women in blue burqas gather in the narrow hallway outside the clinic, while men wait in the parking lot. They are the poorest people in one of the world’s poorest countries: widows, the unemployed, the elderly. They measure the distance to the clinic by the cost of getting there — and a 10-cent bus ride is a painful investment.

About 150 arrive every day for free care and medicine.

An old man named Myagul — he has only one name, and didn’t know his age — had been coughing badly, he said, and growing dizzy when he stood up. The doctors prescribed blood pressure medicine and cough syrup. He’d already been to a handful of doctors, but they had all asked for fees he couldn’t afford.

But on a warm Afghan morning, the old man with the greasy beard and the torn blazer left the clinic clutching a handful of medicines, weary but pleased.

“Finally it was these Indians who helped.”

The Associated Press

Advertisements

15 comments

  1. Who the hell is india to threaten afghanistan that if they brought an islamic government considering that it will be hostile for them so they cannot allow it. The world powers should know that it is the people of afghanistan who will decide their fate not the banya hindu who is investing in afghanistan and soon will be asking a payback with 10 times interest. After all that’s what the banyas have been doing to muslims and their own people in india. These hindus don’t favour people for humanity but for their dirty and greedy wishes. Afghan people are brave and they love islam and they know the history of indian banyas towards muslims of india, pakistan, bangladesh and kashmir has been to snub and kill them through its terror cell RAW.

    People of Afghanistan kick the hindu banya out of your country before its too late. Don’t forget your ancestors like Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi who said to these banyas when they tried to bribe him. Sultan Mahmood Ghaznavi said “MAIN AIK BUTT SHIKKAN HOON BUTT FAROSH NAHIN”. The greedy banya has your energy reserves and using you for its nefarious designs against the muslims of pakistan and the neighbours such as china. Don’t be victim of the greedy banya learn from kashmir massacres from the hands of the banyas.


    • You take the afghans to be total fools!!!

      They know very well that Pakistan pretends to help Afghanistan only as a part of its anti-India strategy.

      Pakistan backed Taliban ruked Afghanistan for a number of years.
      Did Pak give and developmental aid then?

      The Taliban were killing women children because they wanted to go to school to read and write.
      Did Pakistan stop them?

      No! all they were bothered was the military part.

      Only when India stepped in with Billions in aid,did Pak suddenly wake up to the concerns of the Pak people.

      Do they not know Pakistan?
      Do they not see how Pakistan is benefiting from US money and aid?

      Pakistan enjoys all benfits from the west,gives support to NATO and USA,targets the tribals of NWFP,bombs its own mosques,and then pretends to be the greatest follower of Islam!!!

      Hypocrisy at its best.


      • Today,Afghans are celebrating the anniversary of ouster of USSR from their country.
        They are not definitely fools.They know who helped them,in the hour of their need.Who sheltered four million refugees.Who provides port facilities to their landlocked country.

        They also know who was supporting USSR to kill their countrymen.Who is spoiling their youth with porn bollywood.They know your love for them is only Pakistan centric.Your Chanakya diplomacy,on the one hand,criticises Taliban to be “cruel”,but at the same time,you say Taliban are a reality and US should deal with them.

        Hypocrisy at its highest level.


      • It is the USA and Pakistan which maintain the good and bad Taliban stand.

        Yes the Afghans know who helped them.

        US arms,money pumped in by the west and Saudis and the Afghans fighters.

        Pakistan was simply the conduit as the neighbor.

        Afghans detest the fact that Pakistan tries to think of them as Pakistan’s backyard.

        Especially when Pakistan itself relies on US military and financial aid and uses these very funds to play around in Afghanistan.

        Left to its own devices Pakistan neither has the means nor the money to play big power games.


  2. “Who the hell is india to threaten afghanistan”

    I think you need to read the article again. I don’t think that India has threatened Afghanistan and neither has the writer of the article claimed anything as such…

    And regarding your routine tripe about Hindus – carry on the abuse. I won’t really stop you from showing your obviously Pakistani upbringing to the rest of the world… so please carry on


    • @Abused

      😀 😀 :d

      What a classic case of a thief accusing the victim of the crime 😀

      If you feel abused or amused at ur abuse ..why do you keep coming back to this forum ? 😀 😀

      You’ve replied in the past by saying “to get ur few laughs” – Well then if people like are enjoy laughing at urselves or while their made to show the mirror then that shows something about ur Indian Upbringing 😀 😀

      Dont try to hide ur problems under the garb of accusing others 😀 😀

      By the way …here’s ur daily laughing dose ..be amused and laugh away 😀

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7132124.stm

      lol lol lol lol lol 😀 😀 😀


      • I am so glad that I could bring some joy into your otherwise Pakistani existance, and please completely ignore my point about India threatening Afghanistan (???) that the originator of the post has made.

        After all – why should I clear any misconceptions….

        And, in the meanwhile, please abuse away. The world loves to see Pakistanis in their true colours…awwww


  3. @RAJK – AMUSED OR NOT AMUSED you have indians have disability and unable to understand many things for your information the writer says that india considers taliban as anti india and “India has threatened to draw Iran, Russia and other nations into the competition if an anti-Indian government comes to power in Kabul”. So india is back to its old dirty game of last war of afghanistan and soviets where your country was against the afghans and with the russians and they are threatening to create the same situation again. The reason india is investing in afghanistan is not because of humanity but its banya greed and to setup terror network agaist pakistan and china, the writer says ” To India, ties with Kabul mean new trade routes, access to Central Asia’s vast energy reserves and a way to stave off the rise of Islamic militancy. It means the chance for New Delhi to undermine Islamabad as it nurtures its superpower aspirations by expanding its regional influence”. So it is none of terrorist india’s business to decide who comes into power in afghanistan whether Islamic or non islamic it is afghan people who will decide. As far as pakistan is concerned we have natural ties with afghanistan and share borders unlike india who neither has ties nor borders so keep your bloody hand off afghanistan otherwise the brave afghanis will cut it off.


  4. ” but its banya greed ”

    What’s a ‘banya greed’ that you Pakistanis constantly keep talking about?


    • In other words”CHAMRI JAI DAMRI NA JAE”.
      This is Banya greed.Banya Sood(interest) is a part of it.Always collecting interest instead of letting the borrower return the principal loan.

      Very noble qualities indeed.


  5. Parts from the article:

    To India, ties with Kabul mean new trade routes, access to Central Asia’s vast energy reserves and a way to stave off the rise of Islamic militancy. It means the chance for New Delhi to undermine Islamabad as it nurtures its superpower aspirations by expanding its regional influence.
    Other Afghan officials barely disguise their distrust of Pakistan.

    Pakistan wants “a puppet state in Kabul, a subservient state,” said Muradian, the foreign ministry adviser. “India wants a stable, pluralistic Afghanistan.”

    For now, though, India’s program to win Afghan hearts and minds is clearly working.

    Take the three Indian doctors working in the dusty northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif, dispensing prescriptions and performing surgeries in a faded colonial-era hospital that somehow survived the years of fighting.

    But on a warm Afghan morning, the old man with the greasy beard and the torn blazer left the clinic clutching a handful of medicines, weary but pleased.

    “FINALLY IT WAS THESE INDIANS WHO HELPED.”


    • NIK the mentally sick why the indian helped?? Because they are greedy looking into afghanistan’s resources but be happy sooner or later your indians will return home but with bit of a shoe massage. Hope you understood oh no sorry forgot that you are brain damaged sick. Well the indian bum will be kicked with peshawri chappals and that’s shoe massage for your indians who are carrying out terrorist activities in pakistan. Water suckers, chief of terrorism india.


      • read my previous post again retard. give emphasis on what the afghans say. THEY DONT LIKE PAKISTANIS ONLY INDIANS


  6. INDIA AND PAKISTAN HIGH LEVEL MEETIMG HAS BEEN DELAYED IN THIMPU IS A PROOF OF THE FACT THAT INDIA DOES NOT BELIEVE IN TALKING BUT IN CONSPIRACIES AND TERRORISM .IN FACT INDIA IS A TERRORIST COUNTRY.TIME SHALL PROVE THAT INDIA HAS BEEN SPREADING NUCLEAR TERRORISM.
    THIS IS HOW INDIA REACTS EVERY WHERE WITH PAKISTAN


  7. So what it the writer didn’t mention that 27 years Pakistan has looked after Afghanistan and till date it hosts a great number of refugees.

    Shared it’s bread, butter & land. Gave them space to settle even, and they are living as Pakistanis in Quetta, tribal Areas Karachi and places.

    Hell many of the Afghans are born to know Pakistan as their country.

    So what if the writer didn’t mention that Pakistan was the only country in the World to have a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal. Gave the Afghans the Pakistani Passport so that they would travel abroad and live decent lives and stuff.

    So what if the writer failed to highlight that other than the border, Afghanistan shares a great deal of ethnicity in Pakistan and are similar fierce tribal people unlike any society in India thou they have one third the population yet have nothing in common.

    YAAR It’s a useless debate, Afghans way of life is different and Indians has nothing to offer them! It’s just the trade route that every one is looking for. Time is not far when impostors like Karzai will go into exile and Afghans will be ruled again by the real Afghans and majority the Pashtuns!

    So what if the writer is obsessed to highlight the 3 Indian doctors support over the 3 decades of Pakistan support to the Afghans. It’s a useless debate!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: