Ashraf Ghani in India

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Cooperation among regional players

The departure of the bulk of US forces from Afghanistan, election of President Ashraf Ghani and the big Chinese investment in the region have profoundly affected the pattern of regional relationships. Ashraf Ghani is increasingly relying on Pakistan to reach a settlement with the Afghan Taliban. He is also willing to talk to the Afghan Taliban without imposing Karzai’s conditions. There is a visible slippage in New Delhi’s influence over Afghanistan. This explains why this time there was no reference to security and defence cooperation in the joint statement. While Modi talked about commitment to Chahbahar port project, the expected agreement was nowhere on the table for signatures.

To maintain the positive trajectory of relations with Afghanistan, Pakistan will have to use all the influence it wields over the Afghan Taliban to push them to put an end to terrorist attacks and reach a compromise with the elected Afghan government. The mujahedeen groups of the 1980s could refuse to listen to Islamabad as they knew they were indispensable in the pursuit of Pakistan’s Afghan policy. The Taliban government could also decline to cooperate knowing that Pakistan needed Afghanistan as a training ground. But now that the Taliban are out in the wilderness, they have no option other than to listen to Pakistan.

The joint statement shows that India is keen to be included in the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement. For this New Delhi will have to drop the no-talks posture. India needs to restore the unilaterally disrupted dialogue with Pakistan with an aim to resolve the outstanding issues. Both Pakistan and India need gas and power from Central Asia and can expand trading relations with Central Asia and beyond making use of China-Pakistan corridor. This is a win-win situation for Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Instead of wasting energies on the circuitous and costly route via Chahbahar to Afghanistan, India could make use of the Pakistan’s roads by resolving outstanding disputes. The cooperation would provide a conducive environment for economic development and prosperity.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Only if India wanted peace. With the new defense budget, it's hard to see if India has any plans to let it's neighboring countries live in peace.

    • It's amazing you don't hold china in the same pedestal. China has 5 times the budget of India, it has emnities with almost all its neighbours. It has occupied Tibet and threatens Taiwan. It tortures more muslims in xinjiang than any other country yet they are your blue eyed boys. How munafiq are you people?

  2. Its a big opportunity for these Asian countries and they should take solid steps to employ peace in countries.

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