American dependence on India
By Asif Haroon Raja
When USA decided to invade Afghanistan after 9/11, India had offered its services and had strongly recommended that both Afghanistan and Pakistan should be dealt with simultaneously, otherwise no worthwhile results would be achieved. USA however considered it prudent to adopt a piecemeal approach by first breaking the nexus between Pakistan and Afghanistan and making full use of Pakistan to topple Taliban regime and then deal with Pakistan once it is isolated and sufficiently weakened from within.
In other words, it wanted to deal with its preys one by one. USA also knew that without taking Pakistan on board and completing encirclement of Taliban, its invasion could become costly and time consuming. While Pakistan was made the frontline state and asked to do all the dirty work, India was asked to make use of Afghan soil for carrying out covert operations against Pakistan in league with CIA, RAAM, Mossad and MI-6.
Taking full advantage of its closeness with USA, India succeeded in establishing a strong foothold in Afghanistan after 9/11 and has cultivated deep economic, intelligence, cultural, and educational ties. It is now all set to enhance its military presence so as to assume pivotal position in the affairs of Afghanistan with the blessing of USA. Proposed induction of Indian troops into Afghanistan would allow India yet another corridor for invasion against Pakistan to India. It looks forward to fill the vacuum once US-Nato troops decide to abandon Afghanistan in not too distant future and to ensure that the Taliban do not return to power.
Opening up of a land link from Port Chahbahar to Afghanistan would facilitate India?s mercantile goods and military supplies into Afghanistan and to Central Asia. Establishment of an airbase in Tajikistan has added to its military muscle in the region.
USA has been instrumental in paving ground for expansion and consolidation of Indian influence in Afghanistan because of mutuality of interests. It has now given a green signal for gradual induction of 150000 Indian troops in Afghanistan by December 2009.
USA must know the track record of Indian military on which it has decided to lean on heavily in South Asia. India succeeded in cutting Pakistan to size and creating Bangladesh in the hope of making the two countries client states of India. Contrary to its expectations, the two countries have emerged as strong Islamic states thereby posing a threat to India from either flank. India?s policy of sabotage and subversion in Bangladesh and Pakistan has inflamed anti-Indian sentiments in both the Muslim countries and drawn them closer to each other and both view India as common enemy.
India was the leading ally of former USSR; it had all along supported USSR occupation of Afghanistan and had condemned American interventionist policies. It?s RAW in conjunction with KGB and KHAD played a key role to destabilise Pakistan through sabotage and subversion but failed to save Soviet forces from getting defeated.
Over 100,000 Indian forces had uninvitingly barged into Sri Lanka in 1987 as peacekeepers to defuse ethnic war. After bloodying their nose, they had to beat a hasty retreat after two-year fighting with the LTTE with its prestige rolled in the dust. RAW?s continuous support to insurgents in Jafna Peninsula through Tamil Nadu and provision of training camps in other parts of India failed to keep the LTTE afloat. Sri Lankan forces have done a commendable job by successfully routing the Tamil Tigers and are now mopping up whatever few pockets are left. Leader of LTTE Prabhakaran his fled to his mother country India. The demise of LTTE is mourned by India since it has unshackled Sri Lanka from RAW sponsored deadly insurgency and will now be in a better position to thwart Indian bossy attitude in the region. With an eye on their coming elections, Parnab Mukherjee has belatedly become alive to the plight of Tamil Nadu citizens and other Tamils residing in the enclave who were kept as hostages by the insurgents and used as human shields.
Sri Lankan regime knows well how to look after peaceful citizens and needs no tutoring. In fact, it is India which needs to put its own house in order by ensuring the safety of minorities residing in India who are at the mercy of marauding Hindu extremists and communal Indian security forces. Same is applicable to Hillary Clinton and Miliband who have also expressed similar concerns over the humanitarian and human rights situation in Jafna.
Over seven lacs Indian security forces are pitched against few thousand Kashmiri freedom fighters since 1989 but have miserably failed to extinguish the flaming torch of liberty lit by the Kashmiri Mujahideen. Till recent, India was throwing the entire blame on Pakistan for supporting the freedom struggle inside occupied Kashmir. This so-called grouse of theirs was removed by Gen Musharraf by reining in all Jihadi forces in Pakistan and letting India fence the entire length of Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir. Indian civilian and military leaders confirmed several times that cross LoC movement from Azad Kashmir had ceased. The Kashmiris have once again surged with full force and this time the movement is unarmed which has unnerved Indian leaders.
In conjunction with Northern Alliance, CIA and Israel, India wove a web of deceit around Pakistan and is playing a major role in destabilising Pakistan. It has played a key role in colouring the perceptions of US leaders and Karzai against Pakistan to spoil Pak-US and Pak-Afghan relations and is now working hard to create misunderstandings between China and Pakistan and between Iran and Pakistan with a view to isolate Pakistan. India is however maintaining friendly relations both with China and Iran and had a hand in the development of Iranian nuclear program. Nuclear material is still being funnelled into Iran through private sources. Its consulates in Afghanistan are also acting as conduits for funnelling Russian sponsored Uzbek and Chechen agents into restive areas of Pakistan. India is working hard to keep Afghanistan and Pakistan destabilised.
The proficiency of Indian army was well judged by the world in the recent Mumbai terror where ten terrorists gave an extremely tough fight to 4000 Indian security forces including 1200 strong Indian elite force and kept them at bay for 60 hours. 172 people including foreigners and security personnel got killed. Eventually the Israeli and South African commandoes had to bail them out. They could get hold of only one terrorist while all the others got killed in the shoot out. Apart from ineptness of security forces, it was a case of massive intelligence failure in which the Indian Navy should accept the major responsibility. Earlier on, the Indian military strength was tested in the battle of Dras-Kargil in the summer of 1999 where a very small force stalled the entire might of Indian army. The USA led G-8 came to the rescue of India and Pakistan was told by US President Clinton to vacate the occupied peaks. India which had lost the Kargil conflict converted its defeat into victory on the media plane.
Indian security forces are fighting series of separatist movements and insurgencies in various Indian states, some as old as over five decades and none has been quelled despite using excessive force and applying draconian laws. India has so far played no active role in war on terror except for covert operations and that too against Pakistan which is US ally in this war. Yet it wants to capture central role for itself in Afghanistan. One fails to comprehend why did USA rope in Nato when Indian forces were available next door?
Why could Pakistan not be assigned the role which USA intends to hand over to India? Although placement of foreign forces in Afghanistan is least desirable, US should have known that Pakistan troops as peacekeepers may be acceptable to the Pashtun Afghans but they would certainly not welcome Indian troops acting as peacekeepers on their soil particularly because of their strong connection with Northern Alliance.
India must realise that placement of its security forces in Afghanistan would not be without paying a heavy price. It must learn lesson from its debacle in Sri Lanka and refrain from adventurism. Moreover, the tight embrace of USA has often proved deathly. Should India not concentrate more on putting its own house in order by tackling dozens of insurgencies and separatist movements on its soil instead of meddling in others affairs? Afghanistan will sooner than later become a quagmire in which its troops will get stuck for eventual destruction. If Britain in its heydays, former Soviet Union and USA could not achieve victory, India too is bound to suffer devastating defeat and annihilation.
Asif Haroon Raja is a retired Brig and a defence and political analyst.
- Asian Tribune -