Is Afghanistan A Proxy Battlefield?

Afghanistan has become the battleground in this proxy war between India and Pakistan.

afghanistanIndia has traditionally enjoyed good relations with Afghanistan. However when Afghanistan came under Taliban rule in 1994, India severed relations. India supported the Northern Alliance against the Taliban. After 9/11, the United States attacked Afghanistan and the Taliban regime collapsed.

India renewed friendly ties with the Afghan government. Since 2001, India has invested large amounts in the following Afghan sectors: construction, education, health and military training.

Every country has its own national interests. India’s interests in Afghanistan include:

  • Encouraging Afghans to be pro-Indian.
  • Using Afghanistan as a base to control Pakistan.

India has been relatively successfully – but not completely successful in forging a semi pro-Indian government in Kabul. India has also supported Baloch nationalists in Pakistan’s troubled Balochistan province, who seek independence from Islamabad. India knows that the possibility of Balochistan seceding from Pakistan is a cause of great concern for Pakistani authorities, and supporting Baloch demands is an extension of the Indian-Pakistani proxy battle.

In a confidential report submitted to US President Barack Obama on August 30, 2013, General Stanley McChrystal wrote “India’s political and economic influence is increasing in Afghanistan” and Islamabad views the current Afghan government as pro-Indian.

Afghanistan has become the battleground in this proxy war between India and Pakistan. Both sides accuse the other of using the country to exert influence and undermine the other. Concurrently, India, Afghanistan, the US and NATO blame Pakistan for supporting the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Some Taliban and al-Qaeda leaders have been captured or killed in Pakistan, including Haqqani Network leaders and Osama bin Laden. At that time, Pakistan was playing a double game with both the terrorists and NATO forces.

Now Pakistan is playing three sides against each other: The US, Afghanistan and Taliban. Pakistan receives money from Washington and support the US in its war on terror; supports the Afghan government; and at the same time supports the Taliban against the US, NATO and Afghan government.

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Peace will only be possible when Pakistan and India stop using Afghanistan as a proxy battlefield.

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Photo credit: Inayat Ur Rehman

Inayat Ur Rehman is a Political Science and International Relations student. He can be reached at afgyomo@gmail.com. Read other articles by Inayat.