In­dia to Strengthen Afghan De­fences, Re­gains top Billing with Ghani Visit

India Strategic - - CONTENTS - By Nilova Roy Chaud­hury

NEW DELHI. In­dia and Afghanistan signed an ex­tra­di­tion treaty, con­sid­ered a land­mark in the bi­lat­eral strate­gic part­ner­ship, dur­ing the visit of Afghan Pres­i­dent Ashraf Ghani to Ind ia Septem­ber 14. The two coun­tries also sealed agree­ments on peace­ful uses of outer space and on co­op­er­a­tion on civil and com­mer­cial mat­ters, while In­dia an­nounced a credit line of an­other one bil­lion dol­lars to the ter­ror­ism-rav­aged na­tion.

Although In­dia’s For­eign Sec­re­tary Subrah­manyam Jais­hankar de­clined to specif­i­cally state whether In­dia would step up its de­fense col­lab­o­ra­tion with Afghanistan, specif­i­cally the sup­ply of mil­i­tary hard­ware, he said In­dia and Afghanistan had en­hanced their bi­lat­eral se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion, and sought an end to spon­sor­ship of “all forms of ter­ror­ism.”

Pres­i­dent Ghani was more forth­right on the is­sue say­ing, “In­dia’s as­sis­tance to Afghanistan is open, trans­par­ent. He­li­copters have been pro­vided at our re­quest and we greatly ap­pre­ci­ate those. In­dia and Afghanistan’s col­lab­o­ra­tion is for sta­bil­ity,” he em­pha­sised, while re­spond­ing to a ques­tion.

“If we ac­cept that ter­ror­ism is a threat, and there is no one that can deny this, then we need sys­tems that share com­mon val­ues to col­lab­o­rate and coun­tries that feel threat­ened by col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween two peace-loving coun­tries need to change their out­look and not blame,” the Afghan Pres­i­dent stated. “This is not a ques­tion of a blame game, it is a ques­tion of fun­da­men­tally think­ing through the cur­rent re­gional and global level,” he said while ask­ing for more in­ter­na­tional sup­port to build his coun­try eco­nom­i­cally on the one hand and help it fight Pak­istan-spon­sored ter­ror­ism on the other.

EX­TRA­DI­TION TREATY WITH IN­DIA

Sign­ing the bi­lat­eral Ex­tra­di­tion Treaty to fa­cil­i­tate ex­change of wanted ter­ror­ists and crim­i­nals is a step for­ward to counter ter­ror­ism and nar­cotics smug­gling, which forms the fi­nan­cial life­line of most of the ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions in the re­gion.

“The spe­cific na­ture of ter­ror­ist threats faced by In­dia and Afghanistan is con­gru­ent in many ways since their ori­gins have some com­mon el­e­ments,” ex­plained Jayant Prasad, for­mer In­dian Am­bas­sador to Afghanistan and now Direc­tor Gen­eral of the In­sti­tute for De­fence Stud­ies and Analy­ses (IDSA). “For counter-ter­ror­ist ef­forts to suc­ceed against the present or fu­ture avatars of

ter­ror­ism, the de­nial of safe havens must go hand in hand with the dis­man­tling of the in­fra­struc­ture of ter­ror­ism.”

“With Pak­istan’s ter­ror­ist cre­den­tials more fully ex­posed, Pres­i­dent Ghani has be­gun to un­der­stand Pak­istan’s real in­ten­tions and is mov­ing away from Is­lam­abad’s em­brace,” Afghan diplo­mats told In­dia Strate­gic.

In­dia is “ob­vi­ously re­lieved” and has opened its purse-strings to help Kabul build ca­pac­ity against the on­slaught of ter­ror from across its bor­ders.

PAK­ISTAN SPON­SOR­ING TER­ROR­ISM AGAINST AFGHANISTAN

A joint state­ment is­sued af­ter talks be­tween the vis­it­ing Afghan Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi made an oblique ref­er­ence to Pak­istan, viewed by both coun­tries as the prin­ci­pal spon­sor of ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity in both coun­tries, said In­dia and Afghanistan called upon “the con­cerned” to “put an end to all spon­sor­ship, sup­port, safe havens and sanc­tu­ar­ies to ter­ror­ists in­clud­ing for those who tar­get Afghanistan and In­dia.”

De­scrib­ing the ‘fifth wave’ of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence that has hit his coun­try as prob­a­bly one of the “most well­fi­nanced move­ments in his­tory” Pres­i­dent Ghani said that “in the ab­sence of rules of the game”, and due to the will­ing­ness of some states – read Pak­istan – to spon­sor non-state ac­tors, the phe­nom­ena has evolved over the years with deep­ened tech­niques.

“States do not be­have like ma­ligned non-state ac­tors vis-a-vis their neigh­bours. They see a col­lec­tive se­cu­rity to be an ob­jec­tive to bring sta­bil­ity. Sta­bil­ity does not come from the bar­rel of the gun,” Pres­i­dent Ghani said in a veiled barb at Pak­istan, point­ing out that dis­tinc­tions be­tween good and bad ter­ror­ism was short-sighted.l bite like a snake who­ever feeds it,” he said.

In­dia and Afghanistan are set­ting an ex­am­ple in re­gional col­lab­o­ra­tion, the Afghan Pres­i­dent said. “To­day, right now there are two wars go­ing on. The war in my coun­try is not a civil war. When you have nine in­ter­na­tion­ally clas­si­fied ter­ror­ist groups op­er­at­ing in your coun­try, what is the po­lit­i­cal frame­work for deal­ing with it?”

Link­ing the war in Afghanistan with the strug­gle In­dia is fac­ing, Dr Ghani said, “the en­tire lit­er­a­ture of Kash­mir in­sur­gency is premised that it is a strug­gle for power. But what do we do with peo­ple who be­long to other coun­tries, whose quar­rels were with other coun­tries? ”

STRUG­GLE AGAINST PAK­ISTANI SUP­PRES­SION

Dr Ghani also said that Pak­istan it­self is fac­ing prob­lems as peo­ple in Baluchistan and in Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa have risen against Pak­istan’s sup­pres­sion of peo­ple.

“The sec­ond war that is go­ing on is the war in Pak­istan,” he said. There are 207,000 mem­bers of the Pak­istani army just in the Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa and of course in Baluchistan. We need to un­der­stand why a force of 207,000, which af­ter 1898 is the great­est force as­sem­bled, is re­quired, and again, my hum­ble sug­ges­tion is that use of force alone is not go­ing to do it,” he said.

In a scathing cri­tique of the Pak­istani es­tab­lish­ment, the Afghan Pres­i­dent said, “the en­emy of my en­emy is my friend does not work.”

IN­DIA-AFGHAN RE­LA­TIONS ARE TRANS­PAR­ENT

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion from In­dia Strate­gic, about Is­lam­abad al­leg­ing that In­dia had a se­ries of in­tel­li­gence sta­tions across Afghanistan, Pres­i­dent Ghani said this was “a tis­sue of imag­i­na­tion.”

“Afghanistan has been ab­so­lutely clear. We do not per­mit our ter­ri­tory to be used against any of our neigh­bours,” the Pres­i­dent said. “Why di­vide, why not con­nect, be­cause that is the his­tory of this re­gion. This is a criss­cross­ing place of net­works. There are no rough sta­tions, desta­bil­is­ing,” the Pres­i­dent said, dis­miss­ing Pak­istani al­le­ga­tions.

Elab­o­rat­ing, Pres­i­dent Ghani said, “In­dia’s re­la­tion­ship with Afghanistan is state- to- state. It is trans­par­ent, it is on bud­get, it is ac­counted for. That is the na­ture of our re­la­tion­ship with all our key part­ners. We have found part­ner­ship based on com­mon in­ter­est, on com­mon val­ues and of course on

com­mon threats.”

“Pak­istan is a re­vi­sion­ist state, ev­ery de­feat is cel­e­brated as vic­tory; ev­ery in­tel­li­gence fail­ure is con­fir­ma­tion of a con­spir­acy the­ory.”

Con­trast­ing that with the na­ture of the In­dia-Afghanistan part­ner­ship, Pres­i­dent Ghani said, “The fun­da­men­tal is­sue is that we have a con­struc­tive vi­sion. We have used force against TTP. Their top lead­er­ship has been elim­i­nated by use of force. Could they (Pak­istan) please point out how many of the Haqqani Network they have tack­led, and how many of the Tal­iban lead­er­ship? We be­have like a re­spon­si­ble State even though we are un­der at­tack.”

Afghan diplo­mats said the Pak­istani al­le­ga­tions were aimed at sab­o­tag­ing Afghanistan as well as its pos­i­tive re­la­tions with In­dia. “Pak­istan lies all the time.”

Pres­i­dent Ghani’s two-day work­ing visit this year was dif­fer­ent to his last one, when New Delhi was un­happy with him for seem­ingly ig­nor­ing In­dia and plac­ing it in the “fourth cir­cle” of part­ner­ships. Mr Ghani then ap­peared to ig­nore In­dia’s con­cerns and placed Is­lam­abad on a spe­cial pedestal then. He has seen the truth now from the apex chair.

IN­DIA EX­TENDS MORE AS­SIS­TANCE

In­dia ex­tended a one- bil­lion dol­lar line of credit for ‘ ca­pac­ity and ca­pa­bil­ity build­ing.’ The credit an­nounced Septem­ber 14 is above the over two bil­lion dol­lars In­dia ex­tended to Afghanistan for in­fra­struc­ture projects, in­clud­ing the Friend­ship dam, the Zaranj-De­laram road, the Par­lia­ment build­ing and the power grid light­ing the cap­i­tal.

Of­fi­cial sources told In­dia Strate­gic that the two coun­tries would not ad­ver­tise their de­fence col­lab­o­ra­tion. But as the first coun­try with which Afghanistan signed a Strate­gic Part­ner­ship Agree­ment (SPA) in Oc­to­ber 2011, In­dia “would not be found want­ing” in the de­liv­ery of “what­ever as­sis­tance Kabul re­quires.”

Pres­i­dent Ghani and PM Modi, who have met eight times over the past year at var­i­ous fora, also sought faster im­ple­men­ta­tion of the trilateral agree­ment among Afghanistan, Iran and In­dia, signed in May 2016, to cre­ate a network of re­gional connectivity around Iran’s Chaba­har port. Connectivity was a key fo­cus of the dis­cus­sions, the For­eign Sec­re­tary said af­ter the two-part dis­cus­sions ended. Pak­istan does not al­low In­dia tran­sit rights to sup­ply goods to Afghanistan.

“Why are we con­cerned that a coun­try (Pak­istan) can block two great na­tions ( In­dia-Afghan) from trade? Any­way, with Chaba­har, the mo­nop­oly will end,” Pres­i­dent Ghani de­clared.

(Above) Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi with the Afghan Pres­i­dent Dr. Mo­ham­mad Ashraf Ghani, at Hy­der­abad House, in New Delhi (Be­low) Ghani with Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee, at Rash­tra­p­ati Bha­van, New Delhi

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