India’s Move in Afghanistan

For the record

In an op-ed in Indian Express, Nitin Pai and I argue in favor India’s intervention in Afghanistan, and address some of the concerns our previous article in Pragati had raised,

The government of President Hamid Karzai and members of the erstwhile Northern Alliance have long argued for India to scale up its involvement in Afghanistan. Iran and Russia, both of whom share an interest in keeping the Taliban out of power, are far more likely to be comfortable and co-operative with Indian troops in Afghanistan’s western and northern provinces than with US troops. Over time, a co-operative arrangement between India, Iran and Russia could form the bedrock of a regional solution to a stable Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, the very mention of an overseas military deployment runs into a dogmatic wall of domestic opposition. First, the bad experience of the Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka in the late 1980s is brought up as if that episode should cause India to for forever foreswear the use of its armed forces beyond its borders. Apart from the significant differences in context, the Indian army has accumulated two decades of counter-insurgency experience in Kashmir and elsewhere that makes it a qualitatively different force from what it was before the Sri Lankan intervention.

Second, it is argued that sending Indian troops to Afghanistan will be seen as anti-Muslim. On the contrary, it is ordinary Afghans, a vast majority of who are Muslims, who will be the biggest beneficiaries of an Indian intervention. How can supporting the legitimate government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan be anti-Muslim? The idea that fighting the Taliban is a war against Islam is a misleading canard that only benefits the likes of Osama bin Laden and the Pakistani military-jihadi complex. [link]

For discussion, hop over to The Acorn.

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