Afghanistan’s Comparative Perceptions Of Pakistan And India – Analysis

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By Dr Subhash Kapila

Afghanistan was posed with mighty challenges on the Partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947 wherein Pakistan despite its Islamic commonality with Afghanistan became interposed as a “Hostile Neighbour” between Afghanistan and India which for centuries had civilizational and friendly ties.

Afghanistan’s geostrategic location on the Western flank of the Indian Subcontinent and with contiguity to Central Asia and the Middle East endows it with geopolitical significance far outweighing its size, population and resources. Afghanistan in 2018 is not only a crucial chess-piece in the global geopolitical chequer-board but has emerged since 1947 as the underlying defining adversarial strategic characteristic of Pakistan-India relations.

Kashmir issue is only a fig-leaf for Pakistan to be used as a pressure-point against India as part of Pakistan’s geopolitical blueprint for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s utility to Pakistan figured high in Pakistan Army’s perceptions as geographical space affording “Strategic Depth” to Pakistan in its unending military confrontation with India. But the irony for Pakistan is that Afghanistan never extended strategic depth to Pakistan Army in all it’s the military conflicts that Pakistan generated against India in 1965, 1971 and 1999.

Yet Pakistan Army continues to be plagued with an obsessive strategic mindset that it needs a “Colonial Hold” over Afghanistan to attain Strategic Depth against India which Afghanistan has denied so far for decades. Towards this end-aim, the Pakistan Army allowed Pakistan to be used earlier by the United States against the Former Soviet Union and presently the Pakistan Army is allowing a similar use by China in its geopolitical confrontation with India.

In the intervening period of the 1990s Pakistan succeeded in acquiring a “Colonial Hold” over Afghanistan by the proxy installation of the Taliban Regime in Kabul for nearly a decade until displaced by the United States military intervention is 2001 following 9/11.

Pakistan Army-led Taliban Occupation of Afghanistan subjected Afghanistan to a bloody medieval Islamic fundamentalist brutalised suppression of Afghanistan to serve Pakistan Army’s strategic obsessions.

The fact that the Pakistan-Army-imposed Taliban Regime entrenched in Afghanistan for a decade crumbled in two weeks or so illustrated two important lessons for Pakistan and more significantly for the Pakistan Army. First, that Islam by itself could not be glue that could hold Afghanistan to Pakistan. The second lesson was that in Afghanistan’s perceptions Pakistan with its “Colonial ambitions” over Afghanistan as evidenced by its imposition of a Taliban Regime for a decade could never ever play a ‘benign role’ in Afghanistan to further Afghanistan’s security and stability.

Significantly, these two lessons are being bitterly learnt in 2018 by the United States engaged to restore security and stability in Afghanistan since 2001.

More significantly these lessons are equally applicable to China to remember and factor-in in Chinese moves to bring about some sort of reconciliation between Afghanistan and Pakistan to serve China’s strategic interest of protecting the Western Flank of China’s flagship project in Pakistan, namely, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

In short, Pakistan and its policy- governing deity, the Pakistan Army is perceived as a “Disruptive Force” engaged in consistently undermining the security and stability of Afghanistan through all foul means like the so-called Mujahedeen civil war, the Taliban Regime and the unending spate of terrorist attacks and suicide bombings in Kabul by Pakistan Army’s terrorist affiliates like theHaqqani Brothers and so any more of their ilk. Pakistan ever since 1947 has failed to generate goodwill I Afghanistan or worked towards generating “TRUST’ in Afghanistan’s perceptions.

Comparatively, and in stark contrast to Afghan perceptions of Pakistan, Afghanistan largely perceives India’s role and demonstrated record in Afghanistan as that of a “Constructive Force” in Afghanistan consistently engaged in working towards the security and stability of Afghanistan.

India in Afghanistan’s perceptions figures as the naturally predominant power of the Indian Subcontinent, not as a ’regional overbearing and domineering Power’ but a “Benign Power’ working towards the security and stability of Afghanistan by use of “Soft Power” of assisting economic reconstruction, economic assistance, restoration and creation of Afghanistan’s infrastructure destroyed by military adventurism of Pakistan Army and its terrorist affiliates.

Afghanistan’s new Parliament Building in Kabul, the majestic stadium in Kandahar, dams, ring road linking important cities of Afghanistan, India has spent billions of dollars towards this end dams and power projects are living proofs of India’s benign intentions in Afghanistan.

Historically too, India has had good friendly ties with Afghanistan’s majority Pashtun people which predate the inception of Pakistan. The NWFP Province predominantly Pashtun held out against joining Pakistan until forced by British pressure.

Similarly, India had equally good relations with the non-Pashtun population of Northern and Central Afghanistan commonly referred as the Northern Alliance on whose shoulders the American rode into Kabul to dislodge the Taliban Regime which Pakistan Army was unwilling to do so, despite US pressures.

Conscious of Afghanistan’s positive perceptions of India and that today United States has belatedly recognised this reality and reinforcing US-India geopolitical convergences on Afghanistan, Pakistan has attempted with China’s help to contrive a China-Pakistan-Russia Trilateral to side-line the United States and India on Afghanistan.

Fortunately, the United States has got its ‘hangover’ of the ‘Good Taliban’ and the ‘Bad Taliban’ a political contrivance foisted on the US in the Musharraf Years.

Afghanistan’s good and trustworthy relations with India cannot be construed by Pakistan as Afghanistan being inimical to Pakistan. It is the Pakistan Army which has severely mauled and brutalised Afghanistan for decades now directly or by use of its proxies. Afghanistan has not done so; it is the victim of Pakistan Army’s military adventurism.

In conclusion, one might as well answer the question that plagues the minds of all right thinking Pakistanis as to what policy changes Pakistan can do to gain leeway in Afghanistan? The logical answer is that Pakistan has to battle for gaining “TRUST” of Afghanistan and the Afghan people and desist from pitting obscurantist Jihadi forces on the political fabric of Afghanistan. To achieve that the first thing Pakistan has to do is to divest the Pakistan Army of its hold on Pakistan’s foreign policy on United States, Afghanistan and India specifically. Easier said than done but there has to be a beginning and that beginning has to be done by all right-thinking Pakistanis. ‘Insha Allah’

Dr. Subhash Kapila

Dr Subhash Kapila combines a rich and varied professional experience of Indian Army Brigadier ( Veteran), diplomatic assignments in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Bhutan. Served in India's Cabinet Secretariat also. He is a Graduate of Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley, UK, Msc Defence Studies from Madras University and a Doctorate in Strategic Studies from Allahabad University. Papers have been presented by him in International Seminars in Japan,Turkey, Russia and Vietnam. Credited to him are over 1,500 Papers on geopolitical & strategic topical issues and foreign policies of USA, Japan, India, China and Indo Pacific Asia. He has authored two Books : "India's Defence Policies & Strategic Thought: A Comparative Analysis" and "China-India Military Confrontation: 21st Century Perspectives"

One thought on “Afghanistan’s Comparative Perceptions Of Pakistan And India – Analysis

  • April 15, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    Afghanistan’s Comparative Perceptions Of Pakistan And India, 4-11-18, EUROASIA
    By Dr Subhash Kapila.

    My comments!
    It is all rubbish that his analysis accusing Pakistan and its armed forces and finally ending with ‘Insha Allah’ from his pen proves he is confused.
    He has forgotten that any foreign power can come into Afghanistan but not possible to get out without bleeding!
    A very non serious analysis! He should highlight the atrocities of Indian army on the Kashmiri men women and children instead of writing such analysis without any meaning.
    Muslims all over India are subjected to torture and humiliation let alone the Kashmiri Muslims are being harassed and killed by the armed forces of India.
    He forgot that India was not created out of Pakistan?
    It was Pakistan created out of India so it is the Indian extremists who are using all sorts of conspiracy to harm this piece of Pak-land as their BHARAT-MATA was cut into two pieces and they feel they are still bleeding!
    Their own PM Indira Gandhi declared taking thousand year’s revenge when they intrigued for thirty years and practically attacked East Pakistan helped build Bangladesh by cutting half of Pakistan. This was also confirmed by the present Prime Minister of India in his visit to Bangladesh!
    It was India had 20 years military pact with USSR and not Pakistan and USSR developed Indians military power to intimidate the neighbouring contries!
    Dr Subhash Kapila is forgetting that the British took the Sub-Continent of India from the Muslims by ‘divide and rule policy’ and Pakistan came into being with utmost sacrifices of Indian Muslims.
    It was not given on plate.
    The writer is most probably not aware of the past history of Sub-Continent.
    This was a very large land much before hundred years of BC but, I think, due to the extremist minded psychology of dominating religious Pundits against all other casts it was reduced and divided into various small states.
    Finally Hindustan was kept intact after the Muslims took over but again due to Hindu conspiracy and 25 years of constant war engagement of the last strong Mughal king Aurangzeb Alamgir weakened the Moghul kingdom and the British took over. The British in fact, accused and hanged maximum Muslims who fought for the war of Independence in 1857 and the Hindus got the reward in shape of Kashmir and Hyderabad Dakkan!
    Initially the partition was not the demand of the Muslims of India.
    Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s proposal in 14 point for a Self-Government for Muslims and Hidus in India to avoid any future conflict and let the people of subcontinent live in peace as they lived for the last thousand years but Mr Nehru out right rejected the idea.
    In fact the very curse of vendetta for Akhand Bharat still lies in the minds of the extremist group in India humiliating the Muslim population.
    If even India was not divided and given to Hindus on plate by their white masters, today the Muslims would have been ruling the entire Sub-Continent of India with two-third majority in the Parliament as per joint populations of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Muslims in India with Sikhs and those the Hindus call them schedule cast?
    For information of Dr Subhash Kapila, I may forecast that if their arrogance and antagonistic policy towards Pakistan is not changed to treat Pakistan on equal bases, India would be further divided and may be right in the centre of Hindustan who knows?
    Thank You.
    Ali Safdar
    London UK


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