New alliance: What it means for Pakistan

“Perhaps Karzai has given up on Pakistan,” Moeed Yusuf, South Asia Adviser at the United States Institute of...

Huma Imtiaz October 04, 2011


As the ink dries on the strategic partnership alliance signed by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the focus has shifted to what role India can play in Afghanistan in the days to come.

The new alliance comes as Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States trade barbs over Islamabad’s alleged support of the Haqqani network, while doubts persist about what role the US and Pakistan will play in the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

(Read: When Karzai comes to Delhi)

Moeed Yusuf, the South Asia Adviser at the United States Institute of Peace, says that President Karzai reaching out to India may lead to a paradigm shift. “Perhaps Karzai has given up on Pakistan.” In the face of such moves, says Yusuf, “Pakistan isn’t going to sit by quietly, because of the India-Pakistan relationship.”

Sadanand Dhume, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and research fellow at conservative think-tank American Enterprise Institute, says, “It would be naïve to suggest that there’s nothing political. The method that’s been used [by India] has been development but politics matters. India has a stake in Afghanistan; it has a stake in Afghanistan’s stability and it not turning into a terrorist sanctuary.”

Although, given the current state of US-Pakistan relations, the question surfaces whether the US is using India as leverage, and whether it can ditch Pakistan and partner with India to play a role in Afghanistan’s future.

(Read: Repudiating realpolitik - A 21st century Great Game is a foolish idea says US scholar)

Shamila Chaudhary, a former director of the White House National Security Council on Pakistan and Afghanistan and now an analyst at the Eurasia Group, says, “Pakistan’s bad behaviour, in the eyes of the US and Afghanistan, is going to push these countries to India because of India’s role as an emerging power and its diplomatic and development presence in Afghanistan. It’s the most likely actor to kind of take over as the US withdraws troops. Obviously, this is of great concern to Pakistan.”

Chaudhary says that while India’s presence in the country is largely seen as positive, one needs to remember that Afghanistan’s security cannot be outsourced to India. “One has to be careful on how India’s future role is encouraged in the region. It probably has more of a destabilising effect than a stabilising one.”

And what does Karzai want? Analysts believe that allegations over the Haqqani network have made it impossible for the Afghan president to actively support Pakistan. However, Karzai may have gone too far, cautions Yusuf. “I think, looking ahead, Karzai will have to reconnect with Pakistan. He’ll shift back to the middle because he also realises that he can’t alienate Pakistan.”

(Read: Which road to take?)

Experts believe that Pakistan has genuine concerns about India’s growing influence in Afghanistan. Dhume adds, “The million-dollar question is what exactly Pakistan wants in Afghanistan? If Pakistan wants a veto in Afghanistan, if it wants to be able to tell the Afghan government, ‘this is who you can be friends with, this is who you can’t be friends with’, effectively treating Afghanistan as an extension of Pakistan, that’s going to be a problem and there’s going to be huge pushback.”

“At this juncture, the visit will cause great heartburn in Islamabad,” said Saeed Naqvi, a fellow at the Observer Research Foundation think-tank in New Delhi. “That is unfortunate from the Indian perspective because anything achieved in the visit will be seen by Pakistan as an insult.”

Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2011.


Observer | 10 years ago | Reply

Interesting first Pakistan drives US into Indian arms and now Afghanistan. The recent strategic agreement was a proposal drawn up six years ago but was not signed due to Pakistan's sensitivities in this matter. With Pakistan's now-overt support of the Hakkanis, cross border shelling into Afghanistan and the alleged role in Rabbani's killing....Pakistan signed the Indo-Afghan strategic agreement with its own hand.

aniq | 10 years ago | Reply

@Babloo: Pakistan has already given that right to export to India. but In the future we will revoke it because it leads to alot of smuggling Pakistan has given aid. But Pakistan will not be bullied Just because India is Richer. Nor will it allow Indian Hegemony in the region

We will also ban air flight to india going over pakistan

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