India is a staunch believer of Chanakya, alias Kautilya and his treatise of war the Arthashastra, and is so enamoured by Chanakyan guiles and stratagem of deceit that it has named its diplomatic enclave in New Delhi as Chanakyapuri. Mandala Theory, one of the strategies prescribed and represented at the end of Kautilya's Book Six, 'The Source of Sovereign States' (Kautilya, 1967: 294), states

By S. M. Hali

Hamid Karzai, the Mayor of the presidential palace in Kabul, since his writ is limited to its four walls, levied charges against ISI, Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency for orchestrating the assassination of Afghan Higher Peace Committee’s head and former President Burhanuddin Rabbani; he denounced the year long peace negotiations with the Taliban and rushed off to Pakistan’s arch rival India and signed a security agreement. Much to the chagrin of Pakistan, since heretofore western powers had kept India at bay in Afghanistan to ward off Pakistan’s suspicions and limited India’s role to reconstruction projects.

India does not have contiguous borders with Afghanistan but its past history has been to foment trouble for Pakistan using Afghan soil. It fished in troubled waters when the Soviets, a staunch Indian ally, invaded Afghanistan. India lost the initiative because Pakistan not only bore the brunt of the Soviet invasion, but hosted about five million Afghan refugees and trained and supported the Afghan Mujahedeen to route the mighty Red Army of USSR but the Indians got their chance when the Taliban came to power. India sheltered the Taliban rivals the Northern Alliance and post 9/11 when the US led invasion of Afghanistan ousted the Taliban and brought the Northern Alliance into power, using its influence to win projects of reconstruction in Afghanistan, India ingressed into Afghanistan, vying for a military presence. There are an unprecedented fourteen Indian Consulates and Trade Missions in puny Afghanistan, while there are half as many in gigantic USA. Pakistan has ample evidence that India has been using its Consulates and Trade missions to house RAW agents to recruit, train, arm and launch insurgents to destabilize Baluchistan and FATA.

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India is a staunch believer of Chanakya, alias Kautilya and his treatise of war the Arthashastra, and is so enamoured by Chanakyan guiles and stratagem of deceit that it has named its diplomatic enclave in New Delhi as Chanakyapuri. Mandala Theory, one of the strategies prescribed and represented at the end of Kautilya's Book Six, 'The Source of Sovereign States' (Kautilya, 1967: 294), states:

Throwing the circumference of the Circle of States beyond his friend's territory, and making the kings of those states as the spokes of that circle, the 'vijigisu' (conqueror) shall make himself as the nave of that circle.

The Mandala Theory in effect recommends encircling the enemy with a number of states, friendly to you but hostile to your enemy. Indian overtures to Afghanistan are links of the same endeavour.

The world and Hamid Karzai are projecting that India donated 2 billion dollars, making it the biggest donor to Afghanistan. They are forgetting that Pakistan has hosted from 3 to 5 million Afghan refugees for twenty years. If it cost 5 dollars per day to feed and clothe each Afghan refugee, the arithmetic is quite clear. Additionally, Pakistan enables the transit of Afghan goods from its ports to Afghanistan free of cost. Due to the high cost of food items in Afghanistan, hundreds of tons of it are smuggled from Pakistan across the Durand Line, adding to Pakistan’s woes. If all these factors are taken into consideration, Pakistan’s contribution and sacrifices far outnumber anyone else’s. Yet, according to Peter Preston, “The real victim of Bush's great 9/11 folly is Pakistan. It might have been a buoyant nation today, joining India and China at world economic forums. Instead it is a failing state.” 

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Playing along with New Delhi, Mr. Karzai outlined his vision for a borderless South Asia modeled on the European Union in which a traveler could have “breakfast in Amritsar, lunch in Lahore and dinner in Kabul.” Mr. Karzai imagined an idyllic future in which Afghan grapes will be able to reach Delhi in a lorry “as delicious and fresh as they are in Kabul or Kandahar.”

Either it was naïveté or extreme craftiness on the part of Mr. Karzai to make such projections. For a man who dare not venture out the sanctuary of his palace, whose minder—the US is not safe either—because of the daring attack on the US Embassy and NATO headquarters that took a massive toll of lives, is having utopian thoughts of a United States of South Asia.

Afghan and Pakistani peace prospects are intertwined and the baseless blame game adopted by Mr. Karzai and his dangerous liaison with India are detrimental to the peace process. If the US endgame in Afghanistan is at hand, Mr. Karzai would be better served to be free and fair with Pakistan, his true benefactor.

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