Author|Books|Articles/Lectures|Foreign Translations  Contact usLatest News |New Release
Latest News


It is generally the Chinese who have been the most adept at the practice of consistently stating something detrimental to the interest of its adversaries often enough so that over a period of several years it almost becomes a settled proposition for its victim. India has had plenty of experience in dealing with China in this regard. Therefore it remains inexplicable as to how it fell for the Pakistani claim, supported largely by the US and the UK that Afghanistan has to remain under the tutelage of Pakistan to safeguard Pakistan ’s strategic interest. This canard took shape during the halcyon days of Pakistan-US collaboration to oust the Russians from Afghanistan . Even after the departure of the US from the arena the West continued to go along with Pakistan on this issue, more by default than by design. And so it continued in spite of 9/11 and the sequence of events that followed.

          Now when the Americans seem to have decided on a pullout from Afghanistan by 2014, there remain significant lobbies in the US and UK that continue to maintain that Pakistan’s interest remains paramount in Afghanistan and needs to be respected post-2014. The very absurdity of this line of thinking has remained unchallenged even in India to the extent that it continues to be tentative in safeguarding its own strategic interest in Afghanistan .

          The basic premise of this approach fails to take into account the extreme fallacy of Pakistani claims of strategic depth with implied overlordship over successor governments in Kabul . It is understandable that close Pakistan allies like China , Turkey and Saudi Arabia would back Pakistan to the hilt in taking control over Afghan affairs. For the West not to have shaken it off after the second resurgence of Taliban in Afghanistan is if anything suicidal reasoning. Afghanistan under Pakistani control or tutelage with the Taliban in the ascendant would be a far more formidable threat to USA , the West, Central Asia, Russia and India than was the case prior to 9/11. This time around an US-NATO pullout from Afghanistan manifestly reeling under mounting losses from Pakistan military-abetted Taliban and Jihadi networks would probably be the last time in this century that any Western force would dare set foot again in the region, irrespective of a repeat of 9/11 on Western soil or even a greater provocation resulting from nuclear type of assault from Pakistan-based non-state actors.

          Once the pullout is completed neither the public in the West nor their economic condition would allow for another show of force. Left under the domination of Pakistan the new Taliban-type dispensation, this time backed by the enormously expanded nuclear and missile arsenal of Pakistan, could easily become one of the most formidable players, able to take on any and all-comers once they have consolidated their hold on Afghanistan and the Af-Pak region. At that stage it would be anybody’s guess as to whether the Pakistan military would be calling the shots or whether the extremist elements would be the ones dictating policy. In either case the increased threat would remain.

          During all these years when talking of Pakistan ’s strategic interest in Afghanistan nobody seems to have spoken even peripherally that Afghanistan might have existential interests of its own, well away from dominance by any outside power. This is where India comes in. Of all the interested parties it has the least ability or for that matter inclination to interfere in Afghan affairs. Based on past record it enjoys the respect of the majority of Afghan people. A strategic opening has come its way out of the blue. It has resulted from the belated realization in Washington that the Pakistan Army-ISI combine have been playing the Americans for suckers (to use a well-worn American cliché) and that the US government has been filling the coffers of the Pakistan military solely to enable them so it would seem to kill American soldiers and those of its allies. It was the killing of Osama Bin Laden from a compound close to the Military Academy in Abbottabad that convinced the American public that the Washington Establishment and its think tanks had allowed themselves to be comprehensively befooled by their trusted ‘major non-NATO ally’. The revelation that should not have come as a surprise has finally allowed the US to pull away from its trusted ally after the mounting ills that have befallen their soldiers in Afghanistan . The second event that obliged the Karzai government to invite India to help maintain post-2014 independence was the killing of the former President Rabbani. Like the killing of Ahmed Shah Masood ten years ago this killing too is unlikely to have taken place without the full backing or at least the tacit support of the Pakistan military–ISI combine.

          The Afghans are bound to be happy that it is India rather than any other country that is being invited to help Afghanistan to retain their independence once the Americans departs. It is the only country in the region that is militarily non-threatening. It is the only country in the region that, except for Pakistan and China , would be viewed with general goodwill by all other neighbours of Afghanistan , especially in Central Asia . The latter would be the most worried from a Pakistani-controlled dispensation. Further, it is the only country that the US, the European Union, Russia and Iran would view with favor for taking up the slack in the strategic vacuum that could prevail for several years after the US departure; till the time that an Afghan government fully backed by a strengthened, cohesive and professional Afghan national army is able to take its destiny in its own hands.

          Neither the rest of the world, especially USA and the West, nor India could have foreseen the fortuitous development caused largely by Pakistan ’s duplicity and the tragic events that followed. The Afghan nation and all countries interested in seeing an independent Afghanistan would be unstinting in their support to India were it to step in and meet its obligations to develop and strengthen Afghan independence and neutrality. Should India go about its assigned role with determination and vigor without self-doubt about its capability, it would have become the instrument for peace and prosperity in the region. Strange as it may sound, it would have in the process added immensely to the security of Central Asia, Russia and Pakistan itself, besides its own security. Finally the biggest beneficiary would be SAARC. The ball is fairly and squarely in India ’s court. It has to convince itself and the world that it has emerged a deft player. Success in this task that it has decided to shoulder would automatically make it a very strong contender for a permanent Security Council seat.


Vinod Saighal

October 11, 2011




The cover of TIME magazine dated October 24, 2011 has the caption “why the U.S. will never save Afghanistan ”. The article by Aryn Baker goes on to explain the reason for the startling TIME cover at a juncture when it should be about the last thing that a leading, globally renowned publication of the US should be saying. ’Never’ has a finality about it that brooks no self-doubt. As to what effect it will have on the situation in Afghanistan and on the US troops fighting in that country is anybody’s guess. For certain it will boost the morale of the Taliban fighting there and give a fillip to the Pakistan military-ISI combine. That it might be a misconceived perspective in view of the radically altered equation between the US and its Pakistan ally does not seem to have influenced Time’s editors. This requires elaboration.

           In spite of having been designated a major ‘Non-NATO Ally’ and having been showered with billions of US dollars in economic and military aid the unholy alliance was never really fighting on the same side. In fact they were fighting each other in some form or the other for ten years. It is only now that the full realisation has donned on the US establishment in Washington that they have been comprehensively taken for a ride. The commanders of US and NATO troops on the ground had no doubt as to the real enemy. It is only the leaders of US forces at the highest levels who chose to ignore the persistent feedback from their commandersin Afghanistan while they kept on suffering losses in men and materiel. These have been steadily mounting, it being perhaps the reason for the message of gloom, doom and total despair on the TIME cover.

          After many setbacks the nickel has finally dropped, it having become eminently clear that for 10 long years the US and Pakistan have been fighting ‘each other’. The battleground was Afghanistan . The difference was that the US was fighting with its soldiers and taking the mounting casualties directly, whereas the Pakistan Military-ISI combine were fighting through their proxies, the various Taliban and jihadi factions. The US and NATO cannot go on sustaining the higher casualty levels. In the case of Pakistan their proxies can be fed to slaughter indefinitely with the mushrooming of the Madrasas linked to a poverty-stricken but burgeoning population where the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth child can be handed over to the mullahs with the surety that the children would be fed, clothed and have a roof over their heads. It does not matter what the mullahs do with them. For every child killed the compensation for martyrdom in addition to the boost in prestige are a welcome few lakhs of rupees (three or four thousand dollars, a mini fortune for the impoverished family). Casualties should they number even in the tens of thousands make no difference in the state that is now Pakistan or to those who have been controlling its destiny since Zia’s Islamisation drive. What is more, the children in the madrasas, already low-birth weight and malnourished in the poor families from which they come, suffer further deprivation and mental impairment. It is a condition which makes it far easier to indoctrinate the children with misanthropic zeal. Producing the youngsters for suicide missions has become an assembly-line process.

          Although the situation on the ground may not give much cause for cheer right now, it is nevertheless quite possible that from 2012 onwards the tide might begin to turn. Finally the establishment in Washington has realized what should have been evident since long that while the Pakistani belligerents  cannot be got the better off in Afghanistan at this belated stage, the decision taken by President Obama to fight Pakistani trouble-makers in Pakistan rather that Afghanistan could turn out to be a potential game changer. The new no-nonsense approach will make the Pakistani jihadis and their military backers pay a price that will oblige them to change course before they suffer unacceptable damage. The US has many ways of turning the tide without sending fighting soldiers to any depth across the border. The Pakistani generals have already appreciated that the game may be nearly up should the US persist in dealing with Pakistani menace in Pakistan . It is the reason for Gen. Kayani’s bluster that the US better watch out because Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Whether the statement was for internal consumption or actually a warning to the US , it is the type of statement that no mature civilian government head would make, not even a far-thinking head of the Pakistan Army. The allusion to the nuclear threat could cost Pakistan dearly.

          It is not necessary to bring in the India factor at the present time. However, the strategic agreement between Afghanistan and India for the latter to train the Afghan national forces as well as capacity building could make an appreciable difference. Training at the hands of Dutch, German and other western trainers compared to training by the Indian army personnel are two different things. The latter have been fighting at high altitudes under similar conditions with not very sophisticated equipment for over fifty years. The difference in approach will lead to better results over a period of time. There would also be far greater receptivity and emotional integration between the trainer and the trainee. Indians are respected and liked by the Afghans. India is sending its training personnel after being invited to do so. Their presence and India ’s commitment to see it through could become a decisive factor for peace in Afghanistan in the not too distant future. The US and NATO would be heaving a sigh of relief that the Indian presence in the training domain would relieve a large number of their personnel from this onerous task.

          In sum with the clarity in thinking that has finally donned upon the decision-makers in Washington not only is all not lost in Afghanistan, the situation is likely to improve well before 2014.

Contact Us Terms & Conditions Privacy Policy FAQ;       site development and maintained by activa softech