MOTIVATION FOR CHOOSING THE STUDYBeing anAfghanistan’s citizen and studying in India obviously studying the geopoliticalrelations of the two countries is the subject of my interest. I have chosen thetopic to increase my knowledge about the two countries’ relationship anddifferent factors and dimensions that holds this relationship.India isthe fastest developing economy in the region and on the other hand Afghanistanis a poor country struggling with security issues and instability.
Indian hasbeen helping Afghanistan and has spent millions of dollars. I wanted to knowwhat the bilateral benefits of the relationship are.Furthermore,the president of the US Donald Trump in his new strategy for Afghanistan seekIndia’s role in Afghanistan to increase and help US in bringing peace andstability to the country. Therefore, I wanted to study about the topic and seein which aspects India can really assist Afghanistan and what are the futurepotential for strengthening the bilateral relationship.
OBJECTIVES1) To studythe origin and nature of India’s current geopolitical relation with Afghanistan.2) Toreview the current situation of Indo-Afghan relationship and to identify thedimensions that hold the relationship strengthen.3) To makerecommendations for future based on the study’s learnings.FRAMEWORK USED & METHODOLOGYWhat has been done?First ofall the origin and nature of India’s current geopolitical relation withAfghanistan has been discussed and five existing scholarly works have beenstudied and their theme has been cited. Then, the current situation ofIndo-Afghan geopolitical relationship (post 2010) have been analysed and thedifferent aspects of the relationship discussed.
Finally, the learnings havebeen pointed out and future recommendations are made.Source& Type of data:Thestudy is based on the secondary data. The data were collected from variousauthentic secondary sources such as Research Papers, Journals, Articles, andvarious websites.ORIGIN AND NATURECurrentlyIndia and Afghanistan have a warm and friendly relationship that starts frompolitics and extends to cultural, economic and social aspects. This closerelationship has roots in the olden history and originates from the Indusvalley civilisation. Keeping both the governments and politics aside, we willcome to know that the relationship between the two countries has itsfoundations in the historical links, sharing similar values and exchangesbetween their citizens.
In thepast few decades, Afghanistan has been dealing with war and terrorism, aggressionof superpowers as well as internal political problems that has led toinstability in the South Asian region. The role of India in this area is toneutralize these impacts with its powerful diplomacy, rehabilitation anddevelopment programs, encouragement of peace and prosperity etc. Eliminating ofterrorism from Afghanistan is needed to keep peace in South Asian region.
Geo-strategicallythe Indo-Afghan alliance has a high value as a counter to the Pakistan threat. Fromstrategic and security point of view, India’s focus in Afghanistan is combatwith terrorism, cut down or lower Pakistan’s influence, pursuing policy of aid,economic development and integration with the intention to achieve the goal ofbecoming a major power in the world. It is also mentionable that Pakistan seesthe ever increasing influence of India in Afghanistan as a threat. There areallegations that Pakistan escalate terrorist attacks against Indians inAfghanistan.
Therefore, India has to act with at most caution in thisrelationship.India isalso interested in exploiting Afghanistan’s energy sources and changing it intoa bridge for connecting India to Central Asian resources. Both Afghanistan andIndia being members of SAARC also helps India to involve actively in the regionand counter the growing clout of China.Finally,it should not be forgotten that the geopolitical relation of India and Afghanistanis in line with the United States’ policy. The US wants India to work as itsally and increase its role in Afghanistan.
The US president Donald Trumpannounced the new US strategy for South Asia in 2017 calling India as “a keysecurity and economic partner of the US” and asked India to have a larger rolein providing economic and development assistance to Afghanistan. On the otherhand he condemned Pakistan for giving safe havens to terrorists.LITERATURE REVIEWBineetKaur (2017), claimed that India and Afghanistan have a verylong historical record of technical and economic collaborations in differentfields. She states that even before 1979 Afghanistan was the biggest partner ofIndia in the field of economic and technical programs. After 2001 and removalof Taliban regime Indo-Afghan relation became multidimensional.She furtherpointed out the role of India in supporting the Northern Alliance ofAfghanistan against Pakistan-backed Taliban in 1990s that has strengthen itsposition in Kabul. She also mentioned that the volume of trade and economiccooperation between India and Afghanistan have been on the rise recently asIndia hopes that its investment on Chabahar port will lead it to Afghanistanbypassing Pakistan 1.
D.Sendhilkumar (2015), explained the importance of Indian assistanceto Afghanistan. He stated that India has gained unforgettable reputation fromthe wold by assisting Afghanistan. This assistance will help in vanishingterrorism because if India keeps assisting Afghanistan, their people willrealize the humanitarian approach of India and make a cordial relationship withit. This will eventually lead to ban insending Afghan youths to Pakistan for training that might be used against Indiain the future 2.
Dr.Subhash Kapila (2011), concentrated more on India-AfghanistanStrategic Partnership Agreement. After referring to the long historical andcivilizational links between both the countries that exist even beforeIndia-Pakistan division, he emphasized that India is a responsible partner inAfghanistan’s stability and security. He accused Pakistan of bringing conflictin Afghanistan and destabilizing the country either directly or indirectlyusing its surrogate mercenary organizations. He concluded that it is obviousthat Afghanistan would turn towards India which is an honest partner andcommitted to its stability and development. However, he also pointed out thatthe strategic partnership of Indo-Afghan is not possible without blessing ofthe United States of America 3.GarethPrice (2013), explained the cultural and civilizational tiesof India and Afghanistan throughout a long history.
He stated that Indian filmsand their actors are very famous in Afghanistan that is an evidence of culturalties. He also pointed out the role of education in this relationship andbrought as an example the fact that ex-president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai,was partly educated in India.Heconcluded that the military and security angle of Indo-Afghan relationship iskept lower but its economic and socio-cultural aspects has significantlydeveloped. Indian policy in Afghanistan has shifted from anti-Pakistan strategyto a desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan in order to prevent returnof Islamic extremists and cultivate a government in Kabul that lean towardsIndia than Pakistan 4.
RohullahAmin et al. (2015), Explained economic dimension of Indo-Afghanrelationship. India as a developing economy needs to expand its market andreach the Central Asian countries. Afghanistan on the other hand acts as abridge that links central, west and south Asia to the Gulf. Therefore, Indiacan play an important role to establish the New Silk Road as a commercial linkbetween central and South Asia. As a result India will access the central Asiaand Iran’s energy and resources and Afghanistan will get advantage offunctioning as route of the transit 5.CURRENT SITUATIONIf wehave a look at the Indo-Afghan relation after 2010 we will come to know that therelationship between India and Afghanistan have been strengthening recently.
Signing the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries onOctober 4, 2011 turned a new page in the political relations of the countries.The agreement was important because at the time the international forces wereplanning their withdrawal from Afghanistan and transferring the securityresponsibilities to Afghanistan’s army, India stood beside Afghans and declaredits strategic support.Nowadays,the two countries’ close relationship goes beyond security and political aspectas India has also helped Afghanistan in its economic affairs, infrastructurebuilding, encouraging investment in its natural resources, health andeducation, socio-cultural aspects etc. A high level political engagement havebeen going on between the two countries which is reflected in numerous highlevel visits of the politicians including Prime Ministers, Presidents,Ministers and other high level authorities from both the sides since 2011.Afghanistanheld its recent presidential election in 2014. After two rounds of electionsstill the Election Independent Committee was not able to announce the resultdue to high accusations and allegations regarding electoral-fraud. TheAfghanistan’s government almost lost its credibility and finally by mediationof United Nation and then United States Secretary of State John Kerry apolitical agreement signed and the national unity government formed inAfghanistan. Even under those circumstances India stood beside Afghanistan andcontinued its support towards building a peaceful and developed nation.
The currentgeopolitical relations between India and Afghanistan is concentrated on the fewkey dimensions that we can call them as the backbone of Indo-Afghan friendlyrelationship. Some of the dimensions are as follows:1) Security:Securityis the main issue in Afghanistan. It is the biggest barrier that has hamperedthe development of the country. India has always wanted a prosperous andpeaceful Afghanistan and in this end it has supported Afghanistan bothfinancially and strategically. Gifting three Cheetal helicopters and four Mi25Attack helicopters in 2015 is an example of these supports.2) InfrastructurebuildingIndiahas tremendously helped Afghanistan in building infrastructure over the pastfew years. Constructing Afghanistan’s Parliament building at the cost of USD 90million (work completion- December 2015), Afghan-India Friendship Dam(previously known as Salma dam) at the cost of USD 290 million (work completion–June 2016) and hundreds of other projects are examples of India’s role inAfghanistan’s infrastructure building.3) Economic:Economicbenefit plays a vital role in every international relation.
In fact nowadayspolitical relations and strategies are based on economic interest of thecountries. India in order to access Central Asian countries’ oil and gasresources easily and expand the market for the Indian products has been helpingAfghanistan to develop the Chabahar Port. This port also helps India to competewith the Chinese who are constructing Gwadar Port in Pakistan.FromAfghanistan’s economic point of view this port is very important because itenables the landlocked country to import its needful commodities at lower costby cutting the Pakistan’s role in between and preventing its heavy customsduties. Further it frees the country from Pakistan’s political pressure(Previously if there was a political conflict between Pakistan and Afghanistan,Pakistan would ban its borders as a mean of pressure and Afghanistan had noother way to import commodities). Furthermore, two air corridors linking Kabulwith Delhi and Mumbai launched in 2017 that help Afghanistan to export its dryand fresh fruits, medicinal plants and handicrafts to India.4) Culture:Afghanistanhas a rich culture in its 2500 years of history.
It acts as a bridge betweencivilization of Persia, India and Middle East. Unfortunately, the past fourdecades of war have undermined its unique traditions of arts and crafts. India and Afghanistan have common culturalheritage of hundreds years old. Their culture connects in the areas of music,arts, architecture, food and language. Nowadays, the majority of Afghanmusicians, singers and movie actors are being trained in India.Indianmovies and TV series own lots of popularity in Afghanistan. The TV series SaasBhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kasauti Jindagi Ki were the first of their type thatwere shown and followed by almost every Afghan family owning TV afterelimination of Taliban regime in Afghanistan.
5) Education:Accordingto the Education Attache of Afghanistan’s Embassy in India currently (2018) morethan fifteen thousand Afghan students are studying in India. This includes bothmilitary and civil students who have come through different means, namely,Afghanistan’s government scholarship, India’s scholarship through ICCR andprivately financed.6) Health:If wepay a visit to the hospitals in New Delhi we will come to know the extent ofmedical collaboration between the two countries. Daily tens of patients comeunder medical visa to India and are being treated. India’s donation of 5million US dollars fund to treat Afghan child with congenital heart disease inIndia in 2015 is an example of this collaboration.7) Otherdimensions:Indiahas played an important role in reconstruction and rehabilitation programs ofAfghanistan.
Its developmental assistance now reaches USD 2 billion. Theseinclude the fields of agriculture, technology, sustainable development, roadand transportation etc.LESSONS LEARNEDü The geopolitical relations between India andAfghanistan has a long history and traces back to the Indus ValleyCivilisation.ü In late 1990s, India played its role as a keysupporter of the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan against Pakistan backedTaliban.ü India’s support and assistance to Afghanistanstarts from war against terrorism and security assistance and extends torebuilding of air links, power plants, cultural supports, huge investment inhealth and education sector, training Afghan civil servants and police.ü In 2005 Afghanistan joined SAARC with theIndia’s invitation and both the countries developed strategic and militarycollaborations.
ü The Afghanistan-India Strategic PartnershipAgreement signed in 2011 plays a vital role in developing the countries’relationship in multiple ways.ü India believes that long term investment shouldbe done in Afghanistan in order to gain sustainable development and exploit itsnatural resources. In this end, India has been promoting investment inAfghanistan and a group of Indian companies consist of public and privatecompanies has been chosen to make a huge investment in Afghanistan’s miningsector in the Hajigak iron ore reserves.
ü India with commitment of USD 2 billion hasbecome one of the largest donor to Afghanistan. It has been assisting thecountry in different fields like development projects, infrastructure building,agriculture, military, health and education etc.India’sbenefit from Afghanistan’s assistance:ü Afghanistan’s main benefit is its geography.Anyone who have high influence on it controls the land routes among the Indiansubcontinent, Islamic Republic of Iran and central Asia. As most of thepolitical relations are based in economic interest from this point of view,Afghanistan is a gateway to oil and mineral rich Central Asian nations. That isthe main reason almost every major power including India wants a part in it.ü Furthermore, the massive reconstruction and rehabilitationplans on going in the country is seen as lots of opportunities for Indiancompanies.ü Due to warm historical relationship between thetwo countries, Indian movies have become a part of Afghan culture, while Afghanhandicrafts, fresh and dry fruits, saffron etc.
makes exports of Afghanistan toIndia.ü Politically, a pro-India government in Afghanistanwould disrupt Pakistan’s influence on Afghanistan.RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FUTUREIndiahas been a key supporter of Afghanistan in development areas. However it hasbeen refraining from wide military support.
In the future India should expandits military alliances to Afghanistan against Taliban and terrorism. In onehand it will strengthen the Afghan army and deepen Indo-Afghan strategicpartnership and on the other hand it will improve India-US relationship.Thoughthe air corridor between the two countries have been launched but Afghanistan’sproduct will come to India very costly. More investment should be made toconnect India to Afghanistan through Iran by water so that the high qualityproducts of Afghanistan like saffron, fresh and dry fruits, silk, rugs, andhandicrafts can be exported easily and with low cost to India. On the otherhand Indian products can replace Pakistan’s in a large extent.Privatesector in Afghanistan is extremely weak. The need for huge investment indifferent fields are needed.
It is recommended that Indian companies invest inAfghanistan. Due to need in foreign investments Afghanistan will not levy highduties and taxes. Therefore, it will be very cost effective to make someproduction bases over there.India isone of the largest countries in agricultural production and it has beendonating a lot of agricultural products like specifically wheat to Afghanistaneither directly or through world food program (WFP) but that is not beneficialin long term.
Afghanistan owns enough agricultural land and water. India shouldassist in providing irrigation facilities and machineries like tractors etc.India isgood at information technology so it should assist Afghanistan technologicallyand invest in this field to benefit the country for long term period.Furthermore, in the cultural area, India and Afghanistan can share their valueswith respect to cinema and film productions, music, sports etc. Bollywood filmIndustry can help Afghanistan’s newly born film industry in a huge extent.