By Sajjad Shaukat
On April 1, this year, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, while giving a statement on the recently concluded Pak-US strategic dialogue said that Islamabad “has conveyed to the US that it has legitimate concerns in Afghanistan to which the country could not remain oblivious.” He further clarified, “Pakistan does not want to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan…we want a stable, peaceful and friendly Afghanistan.”
Recently, Washington Post reported that India and Pakistan are “competing for influence in Afghanistan.” The post further explained, “For US officials, India’s increasing presence in Afghanistan is causing new security and diplomatic problems in a country where more than 1,000 American troops have died…Washington also fears upsetting the delicate balance in its relations with Islamabad”.
In fact, the controversy exists between India and Pakistan because of difference in interests of the two nuclear countries in Afghanistan.
In this connection, by availing the golden opportunity of the 9/11, India left no stone unturned in getting its hold in Afghanistan under the cover of the US-led NATO forces. In this regard, stiff resistance of the Taliban militants against the occupying forces created unending lawlessness in the country which has become a most suitable place for India so as to prepare conspiracy in order to fulfill its secret strategic designs against Iran, China and especially Pakistan.
Under the pretext of Talibinisation of Afghanistan and Pakistan, secret agencies like Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have well-established their networks in Afghanistan. Particularly, India has been running secret operations against Pakistan from its consulates in Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandhar and other sensitive parts of the Pak-Afghan border. It has spent millions of dollars in Afghanistan to strengthen its grip on the country, and to get strategic depth against Pakistan. New Delhi has not only increased its military troops in the country, but has also decided to set up cantonments.
Indian RAW, based in Afghanistan has been sending well-trained agents in Pakistan, who have joined the ranks and files of the Taliban. Posing themselves as the Pakistan Taliban, they not only attack the check posts of Pakistan’s security forces, but also target schools and mosques. They are continuously conducting suicide attacks in our country. In this context, India has also arranged some Madrassas in Afghanistan where highly motivated and RAW-paid militants are being trained with the help of Indian so-called Muslims scholars. Now, Indian support to insurgency in the Frontier Province and the Baloch separatism has become a routine matter.
Besides backing terrorism in Pakistan, India is also in collusion with the Balochi separatist leaders who have taken shelters in Afghanistan. For example, Akber Bugti’s grandson, Brahmdagh Bugti has been operating against Pakistan from Kabul. On July 23, 2008, in an interview with the BBC, Brahmdagh Bugti revealed that they “have the right to accept foreign arms and ammunition from anywhere including India.”
While Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Quereshi have also repeatedly indicated that Islamabad has strong evidence of Indian intervention in Pakistan, and the same would be shown to the foreign countries.
Apart from Indian investment in order to achieve secret designs against Pakistan, drug and kidnapping are some other source of Indian income. According to an estimate, world’s 90% heroin is cultivated in Afghanistan. So money earned through drug-smuggling and hostage-takings is utilised in buying weapons, being sent to the foreign agents and the insurgents in Pakistan. Nevertheless, Afghanistan has become a hub of anti-Pakistan activities owing to Indian influence.
In the past, some American officials had also suggested to engage India in Af-Pak strategy. But while realsing the ground realties, a shift started in the US strategy in the end of last year. In this respect, on September 20, 2009, NATO commander, Gen. McChrystal had clearly revealed: “Indian political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan including significant development efforts…is likely to exacerbate regional tensions.”
During his recent visit to India, US Secretary of Defence, Robert Gates, while discussing Afghanistan with Indian leadership, has urged India to be transparent with Pakistan about their activities in Afghanistan.
Regarding Indian undue incursion, even Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani assertively stated in the NATO meeting at Brussels last year that the NATO countries, which have greater stakes in Afghanistan, should pay heed to the concerns raised by Islamabad particularly regarding Indian interference in Pakistan through Afghanistan. On his return from Brussels on February 1, 2009, Kayani denied that Pakistan wanted a “Talibanised” Afghanistan, and said that his country has no interest in controlling Afghanistan. He further pointed out that peace and stability in Afghanistan were crucial to Islamabad’s long-term interests.
Notably, some rapidly changing developments show that India will have to withdraw its networks from Afghanistan in future. America has already decided to withdraw it forces from Afghanistan in the near future. On the other side, India wants to entrap the US permanently in Afghanistan in order to achieve its secret designs against Pakistan and China—in the Indian-held Kashmir by damaging American global and regional interests. After the withdrawal of the US-led NATO forces, India will not be in a position to maintain its network in wake of the successful guerrilla warfare of the Taliban. Therefore, India is doing its utmost to convince Washington to have a long stay in Afghanistan. Failed in this objevtive, it can even act upon dirty tricks to get the foreign forces entangled in Afghanistan. In this context, with help of some so-called Indian Muslims, Indian RAW will increase attacks inside Afghanistan, targeting especially American soldiers with the sole aim to revive old blame game of the west against Islamabad for cross-border-terrorism.
Meanwhile, to what extent, India has been creating lawlessness in Afghanistan by using Afghan soil for terrorist activities against Pakistan as well as Iran could be judged from the fact that on January 16, this year three foreign ministers of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan committed to non-interference in the internal affairs of each country, ensuring that their territories were not used for activities detrimental to each other’s interests.
On January 29, in their final communique, world leaders of the London Conference agreed on a timetable for the handover of security duties to the Afghan forces in late 2010, while backing Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s plan to reintegrate the willing Taliban to pursue political goals peacefully.
While India was interested in the training of Afghan security forces, and was covertly making strenuous efforts in that respect, but no country in the London Conference considered New Delhi’s case. On the other side, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi remarked that Islamabad was ready to train Afghan forces on is own soil.
However, unlike India, Pakistan has been paying a huge price in the war against terrorism in relation to Afghanistan. It has faced huge losses such as political instability, financial crisis, social turmoil, human casualties and collateral damage owing to a continued wave of suicide attacks.
Besides, unlike India, Pakistan shares common geographical, historical, religious and cultural bonds with Afghanistan.
As a matter of fact, India has illegitimate interests in Afghanistan; hence it is involved in illegitimate actions. And instability in Afghanistan favours Indian secret goals. While on the other side, Pakistan wants stability in Afghanistan, which is not possible owing to Indian presence in that country. Therefore, Pakistan has legitimate concerns in Afghanistan.
Sajjad Shaukat is a regular writer for www.Opinion-Maker.org He writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations.