US President Donald Trump has clearly said that he expects a greater role by India in Afghanistan, even as the USA continues to be involved in a protracted war in Afghanistan. Many American soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan, even as the end of war in Afghanistan is nowhere in sight.
Obviously, Trump and US citizens want the USA to dominate the world by waging war in other countries, if necessary, to assert its position, but not to lose its soldiers in the process.
Even as Trump has tried to please India by openly condemning Pakistan for harboring t terrorists and issuing a veiled threat to Pakistan about cutting US aid, it appears that Trump wants India to fight America’s war in Afghanistan as a quid pro quo for its support to India’s war against terrorists operating from Pakistan soil.
Obviously, Trump clearly knows that US citizens are not with him in committing US troops endlessly in Afghanistan, as US citizens grimly remember the huge loss of American lives in the past war in Vietnam and Korea. Trump’s approach appears to be to continue its war in Afghanistan and at the same time reducing gradually the number of US soldiers involved in Afghan war. He can achieve this objective only if India becomes militarily involved in the Afghan war against the Taliban.
It remains to be seen whether the Narendra Modi government, which is desperately needing the full support from the USA in combating the military threat from Pakistan and China, will submit to President Trump’s wish (expressed discreetly) that India should enter the Afghan war.
The Modi government cannot be unaware of the fact that India getting involved in Afghan war will prove costly for India, in view of the Afghan ground conditions and the guerilla type of war carried out by the Taliban.
India had an unpleasant experience earlier when it got itself militarily involved in the conflicts in Sri Lanka to fight the LTTE terrorists on the request of the Sri Lankan government. India paid a heavy price losing hundreds of Indian soldiers in a fruitless war that benefited neither India nor Sri Lanka in any significant manner.
Public opinion in India is unlikely to favor Indian military involvement in Afghanistan to help the USA, even though India shares a common interest with the USA in defeating the terrorists in Afghanistan who are supporting terrorism in Kashmir in some way or other.
The confrontation that India is having with Pakistan and China, and the fact that several countries in Asia and India’s traditional ally Russia are remaining silent so far, without openly appreciating India’s stand, is certainly forcing the Indian government to think that it would be in India’s interest to forge a strong alliance with the USA, which would be a deterrent for Pakistan and China, But, what price India has to pay for gaining US support appears to be a moot question.
The Narendra Modi government clearly knows the expectations of President Trump and has a difficult choice to make.
India may try to get out of this predicament by stating that it has already invested considerably in the economic and industrial cooperation with Afghan government.
The problem is, President Trump knows this, and he wants much more.