Mains Paper 2: IR | India and its neighborhood- relations.
Once you are done reading this op-ed, you will be able to attempt the below.
“The new US-India partnership over Afghanistan, along with the cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, would serve New Delhi’s economic and strategic interests well” Discuss
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Durand Line
Mains level: US-India partnership over Afghanistan
- US President Donald Trump’s speech outline his administration’s approach to the complex situation in Afghanistan
It made three key arguments:
- Threats emanating from Afghanistan and the “broader region” pose a clear and present danger to the US
- A rapid US disengagement would create a vacuum for terrorists to fill, which is “predictable and unacceptable”
- US needs an “honourable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices” that it incurred in men and material over 17 years.
Trump identified three pillars to deal with this reality:
- Diplomatic, economic, and military instruments of US power to leverage a “successful outcome”;
- To jettison the Obama administration’s approach where the timetable for entry and exit of US forces was announced in advance, and instead use the element of surprise by deploying forces at a time, place and duration of Washington’s choosing, and measure effectiveness on conditions on the ground
- “To change the approach on how to deal with Pakistan” while building on the “strategic partnership” with India.
Why Pakistan is important?
- US cannot achieve its objectives in Afghanistan without the support of the Pakistan military.
- Porous Durand Line and the logistics-heavy requirements of the US military, which makes supplies through Pakistan (in the absence of an alternative route) indispensable.
- Even if the US was able to neutralize Pakistan, China is a key player in Afghanistan and has the potential to be a spoiler of US and Indian interests.
- For “successful outcome” in Afghanistan, US has to appreciates the Chinese threat to its objectives and device a policy to manage Beijing’s assertiveness in both the South China Seas and South-Central Asia
- New hyphenated US-India strategic partnership can play a crucial role.
- India, in close coordination with the US and its allies, could spearhead the development agenda in Afghanistan.
- New Delhi needs to play a bridging development role with Western donor countries, which it is reluctant to do.
- It would secure India’s development assistance and investment, and also ensure the sustainable development of Afghanistan.
- Given the Trump administration’s abhorrence of Iran, even when it might serve Washington’s agenda in Afghanistan, India could become a conduit; especially in partnership with other US allies—notably Japan and South Korea—who are also keen on business with Tehran.
- Here, an India-Japan-South Korea consortium (with the US as an absent partner) could revive the Chabahar route to Afghanistan and, manage the crucial supply chain to support US operations in the region.
- It will make the China-Pakistan economic corridor redundant, thus giving Washington an upper hand in dealing with both China and Pakistan.