By Zeba Noori
India and Pakistan have long competed to expand their influence in Afghanistan. However, the recent developments have shown that Pakistan is exercising that influence through a positive approach by supporting the peace process, while India is playing the role of a spoiler; particularly, after Pakistan was able to facilitate US-Taliban deal.
Analysts have called the US-Taliban deal a blow to New Delhi. New Delhi has been trying to exert its influence in Afghanistan by negating that deal as much as possible. But, India has failed to gain a foothold in the recent Afghan peace talks to pursue its strategic interests. Because India uses Afghan territory to support terrorists against Pakistan, it is less supportive of the peace process and does not want the Taliban to play any role in future of Afghanistan’s political structure. In this regard, the Taliban have recently stated that India has always played a negative role in Afghanistan and supports traitors in this country.
Analysts believe that Pakistan has sincerely made efforts to resolve the Afghan crisis peacefully. Pakistan, which has been a victim of extremism and terrorism for many years itself, does not want to see such violence again.
As the major powers move toward a deal in Afghanistan, the fate of influence in the war-torn country is very worrying for India. Experts believe that Indian fears about Afghanistan are due to the fact that even after providing humanitarian and financial assistance to Afghanistan, it remained out of negotiation.
In addition, Islamabad has almost paved the way for Washington, Moscow and Beijing to reach an agreement with the Taliban. Rakesh Sood, India’s former ambassador to Kabul, has previously acknowledged that neither India nor its supporting partners had a position on the peace process for the Afghan government.
Between 1996 and 2001, India formed an anti-Taliban alliance in the north with military, political and financial assistance. The main goal was to ignore the peaceful western border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. A true analysis shows that New Delhi has never hesitated to use a proxy to protect its security objectives in Afghanistan.
India’s continued covert activities in Afghanistan pose a constant threat to Pakistan’s national security. Indian consulates in Afghanistan are cooperating with terrorist organizations to establish insurgent movements in Pakistan.
The United Nations Analytical Report on Support for Sanctions on Terrorism reaffirms Pakistan’s position that the Indian-backed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is threatening Afghanistan and the countries in the region, including Pakistan. New Delhi is lobbying for its role in Afghanistan as well as bilateral engagement with the Afghan government to create favorable conditions through its intelligence in Washington. On several occasions, Pakistan has shown that Indian military support for the government in Afghanistan and the continued presence of the Indian military and intelligence there is an unacceptable provocation.
In the war on terror, Pakistan has been at the forefront, with heavy casualties and economic losses. Pakistan wants a peaceful Afghanistan. Therefore, its role in the Afghan peace process will remain important. India wants to derail the peace process and thus inflict wounds on all the stakeholders, especially Pakistan. Pakistan has never opposed India having a bilateral relationship with Afghanistan but has objected that India is using Afghan territory against Pakistan. Islamabad hopes that India will stop using Afghan territory against Pakistani interests after the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan under a recently signed peace agreement.
India’s Negative Role in Afghan Peace Process
By Zeba Noori