India’s goal is to deny Pakistan 'strategic depth' in Afghanistan: US report

Published: November 4, 2015
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Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (C) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) as his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee looks on upon Ghani's arrival to attend a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's presidential palace. PHOTO: REUTERS

Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani (C) shakes hands with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (R) as his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee looks on upon Ghani's arrival to attend a ceremonial reception at the forecourt of India's presidential palace. PHOTO: REUTERS

India’s goals are to deny Pakistan “strategic depth” in Afghanistan and the ability to block India from trade and other connections to Central Asia and beyond, and to prevent militants in Afghanistan from attacking Indian targets.

This was revealed in a US Congressional report , published in October.

Indian, Afghan leaders pledge to fight militants, build trade

The report by the Congressional Research Service further stated that they saw the Afghan Taliban’s hosting of al Qaeda during 1996-2001 as a major threat because of its association with a militant organistation in Pakistan seeking to thwart India’s control in Indian-held Kashmir.

As for relations between Afghanistan and India, the report said the former had “sought close ties to India—in large part to access India’s large and rapidly growing economy—but without alarming Pakistan.”

Key Pakistani-Afghan trade deals stall on India, souring ties

The ‘Strategic Partnership’ agreement which was signed between the two countries on October 5, 2011 in New Delhi “affirmed Pakistani fears by giving India, for the first time, a formal role in Afghan security,” the report adds. Under the agreement, the two sides had agreed for India to train some 600 ANDSF personnel in India.

According to the report, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai had visited India after the Afghanistan-Pakistan border clashes in early May 2013 to seek sales of Indian artillery, aircraft, and other systems that would help it better defend its border with Pakistan. He had visited again in mid-December 2013 to again request for the sales of weapons. However, India reportedly declined “in order not to become more directly involved in the conflict in Afghanistan or alarm Pakistan”. Further, current Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has withdrawn the request “to avoid complicating his outreach to Pakistan”.

Pakistan must allow Afghanistan direct trade access to India through Wagah: Ghani

Moreover, the report stated that India’s relationship with the Afghan government and with individual factions reflects India’s concerns about “potential preponderant Pakistani influence” in post-2014 Afghanistan. In the mid-1990s, India had supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban and it still retains ties with the Alliance. According to the report, many Northern Alliance figures “have lived in India at one time”.

Despite India’s fear of Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan, the report says that it reportedly “does not want to be saddled with the burden of helping secure Afghanistan as US-led forces depart”. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not changed India’s policy on Afghanistan, the report adds.

The report also stated that US-Pakistan cooperation on Afghanistan has “improved somewhat”. Further, it noted that for several years after the September 11, 2001, attacks, “Pakistani cooperation against al Qaeda was considered by US officials to be relatively effective.”

No need for concern over growing ties with Pakistan, Afghanistan tells India

Further, it mentioned that Pakistan had arrested over 700 al Qaeda figures and allowed US access to Pakistani airspace, some ports, and some airfields for the major combat phase of OEF. It added that Pakistan did not fulfill its May 2009 pledge to establish a “border coordination center” (BCC) on the Pakistani side of the border, although four were established in Afghanistan.

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Reader Comments (19)

  • abreez
    Nov 4, 2015 - 3:57PM

    India not lifeline any more as Nepal signs fuel pact with China
    Oct 29, 2015
    TOI
    India on Wednesday lost its long-standing status as Nepal’s sole fuel provider, after the Himalayan nation signed an agreement with China for the supply of petroleum products. The agreement came after shortages caused by the blockade of land routes from India due to unrest over the new constitution.

    “Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) and China National United Fuel Corporation formalized a long-term commercial agreement in Beijing on Wednesday afternoon,” a senior Nepali bureaucrat told TOI.

    Under the agreement, the bureaucrat added, China will supply fuel at international rates, which Kathmandu might find cheaper than its imports from India. To begin with, China will fulfill at least a third of Nepal’s requirements.
    Just how effective the Chinese supplies will be remains to be seen as every month, Nepal imports about 2,200 tonnes of LPG. It needs about 15 lakh litres of petrol and 10-15 lakh litres of diesel every day. Nepal spends about Rs 150 billion in Nepali currency to buy fuel from India every year.Recommend

  • Prada
    Nov 4, 2015 - 4:15PM

    India should redouble its efforts.Recommend

  • Nov 4, 2015 - 4:20PM

    How immature is this idea of treating a sovereign country as your strategic depth. Laughable. As long as Pakistani establishment has such ideas who will pay attention.Recommend

  • cautious
    Nov 4, 2015 - 4:29PM

    Typical attention grabbing ET headline … but if you read the article the actions by India are those of a responsible neighbor. There is no reason that Pakistan should determine who Afghanistan can do business with – Afghanistan is an independent country with a Democratically elected govt.Recommend

  • Vectra
    Nov 4, 2015 - 4:29PM

    @Prada:
    Reports are there that Afghanistan will get attack helicopters as India will transfer 4 Mi-35 attack helicopters to Afganistan.Recommend

  • wb
    Nov 4, 2015 - 4:33PM

    Pakistan could learn a lesson from India. Instead of destroying Afghanistan for its own end, Pakistan could help it rebuild itself.

    India is doing the right thing in Afghanistan.Recommend

  • GKA
    Nov 4, 2015 - 4:43PM

    The headline is provocative. India wants to deny Pakistan strategic depth. Is the newspaper therefore saying Pakistan continues to seek strategic depth ? If not then either India is wasting its time or India and Pakistan are actually aligned.
    Twice the article says India and Afghanistan did not take certain actions to avoid alarming Pakistan – which means that India is alive to Pakistan’s concerns. This is good as Pakistan constantly complained that India worked against Pakistan’s legitimate security interests (without specifying what those interests were and how they were legitimate – did Afghanistan see them as legitimate ?)Recommend

  • sabi
    Nov 4, 2015 - 4:48PM

    @Indian trolls
    Afghanistan is a colony of Pakistan. We decide what they can do. Live with it. Recommend

  • leo
    Nov 4, 2015 - 5:27PM

    oh yeah india is a ‘good’neighbor, cause of interfering and blockading nepal and supporting unrest there. the nepalis,bhutanese,sri lankans and bangladeshis do not like indian hegemonyRecommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Nov 4, 2015 - 6:01PM

    If this is India’s goal, then Indian leaders have not read history nor they the know geography. First, there is no border between Pakistan and Afghanistan and more importantly over 50 million Pakhtoons who live on both sides of line ( which is only on paper) do not accept any border or restrictions on their movements. India, instead of wasting their resources in Afghanistan should take care of its own people, majority of whom are living a miserable lives.Recommend

  • PAK FA
    Nov 4, 2015 - 6:31PM

    @VINOD:
    What about recent Indian Blockade of Nepal and demanding changes in the Constitution of a sovereign state? Recommend

  • PAK FA
    Nov 4, 2015 - 6:34PM

    @Vectra:
    Those MI 35 Helicopters will Land in Peshawar for refuge when USA leaves AfghanistanRecommend

  • Skywalker
    Nov 4, 2015 - 7:34PM

    @PAK FA:
    “What about recent Indian Blockade of Nepal and demanding changes in the Constitution of a sovereign state?”

    SSB Director General B D Sharma told The Indian Express, “A request had come from Nepal Armed Police to remove Madhesi agitators from the blockade zone, but we refused to help them. One, we have no jurisdiction in that area. Two, Madhesis are not Indian citizens. We can’t forcibly remove them. Third, it is not an issue in our country. We can’t meddle in their affairs.”

    There is no demand to change Nepali constitution.Recommend

  • Nov 5, 2015 - 12:00PM

    @abreez: And Mr. abreez India accepts this with act of Nepal as a sovereign neighbour. India does NOT even think that Nepal should toe our line like you keep trying with Afghanistan. If Afghanistan signs a pact with India on fuel supply what will be reaction in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Nov 5, 2015 - 12:04PM

    @PAK FA:
    You are prey of some propaganda. India has never blocked any supply to Nepal and will never do it as Nepal is a sovereign country. It is a problem within Nepal and they are capable of sorting it.Recommend

  • PAK FA
    Nov 5, 2015 - 3:41PM

    @Skywalker:
    Please read Indian express dated 24 September 2015.
    Indian demand for 7 changes in Nepalese constitution.
    Please do not try to distort universal Truth. Recommend

  • GKA
    Nov 5, 2015 - 4:30PM

    @PAK FA: Do you know that Nepalese citizens have an automatic right of employment in all government services except the Police and the IAS. India has the largest Gurkha force. Thye do not require visa to visit india or to work in India Recommend

  • PAK FA
    Nov 5, 2015 - 6:20PM

    @ PAK FA: Do you know that Nepalese citizens have an automatic right of employment in all government services except the Police and the IAS. India has the largest Gurkha force. Thye do not require visa to visit india or to work in India

    @GKA
    There are loads of Indians working in KSA, UK and UAE. your comment suggests that it provides , KSA and UK etc justification to intervene in the affairs of India.
    Yes… Nepali are great soldiers however instead of grading them as paid Mercenaries, India should respect the sovereignty of Nepal and stop meddling in its internal affairs.
    Please read your own newspapers prior calling shots in the Air.
    Cheers! Recommend

  • GKA
    Nov 5, 2015 - 7:57PM

    @PAK FA: Instead of asking me to read newspapers, perhaps you should read my comment again. I said Nepalese have automatic rights in india. Indians do not have rights in Saudi – we need a visa and get deported easily. Nepalese are part of the fabric of Indian society – we are much more interlinked than Pakistani’s can think of.
    You are the one grading them as mercenaries – Recommend

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