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India Signals Strong Commitment to Afghanistan’s Stability

Dr Raj Kumar Sharma writes: What has been remarkable achievement of Indian assistance to Afghanistan is that India has not bypassed the Afghan government while giving aid to Kabul.

During the Indian visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, India has signaled that it will stand by the Afghans in their efforts to preserve their nation from scourge of Pakistan sponsored terrorism. India announced that it will further give aid to Afghanistan worth USD 1 billion. India has earlier given USD 2 billion aid to Afghanistan and has been contributing more to Afghanistan’s future than bigger economies like China. Afghanistan is largest recipient of Indian aid and Indian assistance has genuinely helped the country in nation building. What has been remarkable achievement of Indian assistance to Afghanistan is that India has not bypassed the Afghan government while giving aid to Kabul. The aid has been routed through government channels without imposing any agenda which helps the Afghan government in enhancing its legitimacy and writ over the country.

India’s further announcement of aid to Afghanistan has come at a crucial juncture. The international donors are hesitant at the moment about Afghanistan’s future amid rising tide of Taliban attacks. The QCG comprising of the US, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan looks defunct after the US drone killed former Taliban chief, Mullah Mansoor earlier this year. Pakistan has been trying to arm-twist Afghanistan by using the border and Afghan refugees as leverages to control Afghanistan’s budding relationship with India. President Ghani, in his initial months as President, has tried to court Pakistan in order to have a peaceful Afghanistan but soon discovered that Pakistan wants Afghanistan to be a satellite state, not a partner.

Amid such a scenario, India is also mulling options to further supply military hardware to Afghan National Security Forces. This will be a break from India’s restrained Afghan policy and a welcome change, as India no longer needs to be sensitive towards Pakistan’s security needs at the cost of its own security interests. Also, if China can supply military aid to Kabul, there should be no question why Pakistan should object to Indian assistance to the ANSF. President Ghani’s visit has sent a strong signal to Pakistan as well, which is the source of state sponsored cross border terrorism directed against both New Delhi and Kabul. Greater convergence on this issue between India and Afghanistan would help in exposing Pakistan’s duplicity on terrorism.

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