Thursday, 8 October 2009

India announces foreign policy change: supports Afghan reconciliation with Taliban

India's Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao (pictured here) made the surprise announcement at a seminar in New Delhi on 7th Oct

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 8th Oct 09
New Delhi

For the last eight years, since the Taliban fled from Kabul in November 2001, India has staunchly opposed a dialogue with any section of the Taliban. India’s position has remained: there is no purpose in talking to the Taliban; there is no such thing as a moderate Taliban.

But now there is a shift. In New Delhi today, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, addressing an international seminar on Afghanistan, declared that India would support the process of “reintegrating individuals with the national mainstream”, code for dialogue with the moderate Taliban who agree to renounce violence.

Ms Nirupama Rao stated that, “the existing process under (Afghanistan’s) National Committee for Peace for reintegrating individuals with the national mainstream must be both enlarged and accelerated. We support the Afghan government’s determination to integrate those willing to abjure violence and live and work within the parameters of the Afghan constitution…”

This change in stance came with a qualification. Pakistan, which is widely believed to support the Taliban and provide shelter in Quetta to its leaders, would need to cease assistance to the Taliban.

In words that echoed India’s earlier warnings to Pakistan on supporting terrorist camps across the Line of Control in J&K, Nirupama Rao said, “(India’s support for reintegration of the Taliban) should, of course, go hand in hand with the shutting down of support and sanctuaries supported for terrorist groups across the (Afghanistan-Pakistan) border.”

Since 2001, India has refrained from declaring political initiatives within Afghanistan. Instead, New Delhi has confined its visible diplomacy to drumming up international support and multilateral funding, even while coordinating its actions closely with President Karzai and his team. The bedrock of the India-Afghanistan relationship has been a $1.2 billion aid programme, India’s largest to any country. India is currently the 6th largest bilateral aid donor to Afghanistan.

Now, clearly, the MEA has concluded that an aid programme, howsoever successful and appreciated by the Afghans, cannot take the place of clear political initiatives. These initiatives are needed for protecting the infrastructure that Indian aid is creating in Afghanistan.

India’s aid programme in Afghanistan includes: a 218-kilometer road from Zaranj in Iran to Delaram in Afghanistan, inaugurated in January this year; the electrical transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri in northern Afghanistan to Kabul, which has brought regular power supply to the capital for the first time since 1992; one hundred small development projects in rural Afghanistan that have quick gestation periods; five medical missions that provide free medicines to 1000 patients per day; support to Kabul’s Indira Gandhi Centre for Child Health, and connecting it last month through a tele-medical link with two super-speciality child health facilities in India; a grant of one million tonnes of wheat, which is currently being distributed daily as 100 gram high-protein biscuits to two million school-going children across Afghanistan.

Besides declaring support for reconciliation, the foreign secretary also made clear that, as far as India was concerned, the results of Afghanistan’s vitiated presidential elections held in August was not yet a settled matter. Congratulating the Afghan people for participating in the elections in the face of Taliban threats, the foreign secretary accepted the possibility of a run-off between President Hamid Karzai and Dr Abdullah Abdullah, and of working with whichever of them was elected to power.

Ms Rao also declared that India had made up its mind that its regional interests lay in a continued United States presence in Afghanistan.


Anonymous said...

In that case y doesnt india negotiate with the naxalites in its own territory this only shows that the indian leadership behave like chickens when confronting a stronger adversary

krishna kumar . k said...

This is good but it is not a new policy, in India we always pursue "lay down arms and join the main stream" policy for our internal problems in noth east, maoist..., and it has to be backed by economical development in Afghanistan, may be we should also initiate a forum for investment(creation of jobs) in Afghanistan to end support for terrorism, the analogy here is like the Indian health ministry saying watch more tv to more less reproduce.

krishna kumar . k said...

This is good but it is not a new policy, in India we always pursue "lay down arms and join the main stream" policy for our internal problems in noth east, maoist..., and it has to be backed by economical development in Afghanistan, may be we should also initiate a forum for investment(creation of jobs) in Afghanistan to end support for terrorism, the analogy here is like the Indian health ministry saying watch more tv to more less reproduce.

chandrabhan said...

Colonel Shukla,
In case this is some chankian move to slowly move away from Karzai then what is the rationale behind it?
1. Does GOI sees Karzai as been discredited in these elections and we don't want to antagonise Dr Abdullah?

2. Is GOI getting ready for the eventuallity of Amirkhans leaving Afghanistan in a short time and we don't have someone like Massoud to hedge our bets on this time around?

3. Is Terrorist state of pakistan on the verge of convincing the Americans that Only Taliban can provide security and also a guarantee that Terrorism , Henceforth will not be directed against West & Europe from Afghanistan and US has to turn a blind eye towards the happening in India?

4. Or is it late understanding of history that most of the beards(opportunist Talibs) are rentiers and they will pick up a gun to fight on the side of whoever pays more money or seems to be powerful and they have nothing to do with ideology ?

5. Are we forgetting that Karzai is a Durrani and they have ruled Afghanistan for the past 250 odd years and most of the talibans are Ghilzais including that One eyed mullah?

6. Last but not the least why are we helping the Amirkhans craft an exist strategy? It helps us if they are sucked up in this quagmire for long. It has to weaken them and their poodle to the extant that they should leave this area for good.Only we have been able to beat these pashtoons(Maharaja Ranjit singh). His General (an American named gerald) used to throw 5 Pathans from the peshawar fort upside down every morning. Everyone of Sikh generals had a Durrani wife.

Are we ready to play the game on our own? Who will be our proxy this time? One eyed Mullah is no friend of ours and how do we deny space to Terrorist state of pakistan? I do understand that we must protect our investments as Americas are about to run away but we must find ways and means to keep them here anyhow.

Are we ready to land troopers in Afghanistan to provide security? In that case where do we supply them from? Now I am convinced that we must land troopers and I think this rumours of American retreat are to nudge India to send troopers. We must insist on a Land corridor to supply

Arun rajkumar.l said...

Bro i will give you a smile to your above statement.Hope you didn't read the article by Ajai,its all about strategy.We don't want to loose Afghanistan to pak as he pointed out in his second last writing .

And about naxals we all know Left supported them in the past.Now the whole situation changed ,within 5 years they will be wiped out .

P Mukherjee said...

It is very clear that the Taliban cannot be exterminated in toto. The kind of overwhelming deployment of manpower and firepower which would be required to effect such an outcome is not likely to happen. Pakistan does not have the will to prevent use of its territory by Taliban and the US cannot go beyond a point to force Pakistan to see things its way.

So you cant defeate them militarily, they just run away licking their wounds, regroup and come back. You cant kill them off. Only option left is some kind of negotiated settlement, maybe power sharing arrangement. If India does not come on board now, it never will and the post US arrangement will show us the door for sure.

Anonymous said...

seems Taliban has responded to our good will gesture by bombing our Kabul embassy once again. Why do we keep fooling ourselves. Appeasing the devil has never benefited anyone yet humanity keeps repeating the same mistakes time and again. Its important to do the right thing howsoever difficult that may be. Reforming Afghanistan may take a generation or more but surrendering to the wolves is no solution either. The important thing to understand is that the faith of humanity is intertwined. As long as there are people in the world who are oppressed, hungry or just misguided their pain is going to get you sooner or later. You just cant close doors on them.

rituraj said...

how do they even still have weapons,just the fact that they are still up and fighting shows that they get support from pakistan,and if we change our stand on something like this,we might have to do the same on more serios issues like kashmir!waah congress teri maaya aprampaar!

Anonymous said...

I believe that the greatest failure that we had in Afghanistan happened before 9/11 ,infact 3 days before 9/11, when we was not able to protect our greatest asset in Afghanistan Ahmad Shah Massoud from the Taliban.
It was an unfortunate incident and we along with the world are paying for it.
Just imagine a man of his stature in place of Karzai and all our Northern Alliance buddies strictly adhering to his orders....
We would have secured for ourselves a peaceful and friendly Afghanistan...