By Haider Abbas
There is now getting-built up a strange geo-political scenario as US and India are into for togetherness and China-Pakistan are on the opposite side. By the next week US Secretary of State is to reach India as well as Afghan Army Chief Wali Ahmedzai with the prime-most agenda to make India send its troops into Afghanistan to the rescue of Ashraf Ghani government. For India it is a choice between a ‘rock-and-a-hard-place’ as India could well have fathomed this possibility in the presence of US troops, therefore, India might not hazard the risk.
The Gordian-knot between China-Pakistan-India is now Kashmir as Pakistan and India have sparred a few wars on it in the past 70 years, but when India’s PM Narendra Modi scrapped Article 370 from JK&L, on August 5, 2019, it brought China in the open. China and Pakistan apprehended an Indian attack on Kashmir, and on China’s advise Pakistan PM Imran Khan announced the formation of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) province in Pakistan on November 1, 2020. India’s Army Chief was on record on Jan 3, 2020 saying India is ready to attack POK 1. China made Pakistan to bid for GB it as plans to carry its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor from inside GB. In the past one year, China has started to build its army’s presence in Tibet and on borders close to India in the Himalayas. There is an every-day news that China footprints are found in borders around Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh etc. Now a full-fledged Chinese military base is coming-up near Ladakh. Chinese Premier Xi Jinping visited Tibet for two-days (July 21-22) which is close to Arunachal Pradesh. The irony is that the news came to India, on July 23 2, only when Xi Jinping had left Tibet as he was on a secret visit. Where have been our Indian sleuths as India has been hosting a Tibetan government in exile for 70 years! Even the US agencies could not get a wind of it.
There were speculations that US on its vacating from Afghanistan, and with BECA signed with India, was to make a military-base in Kashmir, hence, in order to pre-empt US, China proved to be more alert and has gone ahead with by raising -up a military base near Ladakh which India may counter by inviting the US forces. China has offered Afghan Taliban(AT) with investments so as to run its CPEC through it, hence, it seem to have far more stakes in Afghanistan, perhaps even more than Pakistan now, while India has got into a decline mode after the rise of AT.
Days before Blinken and Ahmedzai visit to New Delhi, therefore, China through its nationalist news outlet Global Times on July 22 3 has warned India to not to send its army into Afghanistan. The article called that ‘ India has been supporting the Afghan government economically and militarily by providing training and limited security equipment. By virtue of this trip, Kabul officials are expected to pursue more support from New Delhi. The reason why India is supporting the Afghan government is mainly because it hopes for Afghanistan to be a friendly country to India— and not be too close to Pakistan. New Delhi is reluctant to see Kabul stand with Islamabad in India-Pakistan conflicts. India wants to see Afghanistan support India or at least remain neutral in the frictions between India and Pakistan’.
The article made a reference to AT spokesperson Suhain Shaheen recently published interview, in LiveMint on July 15 4 who had said that ‘New Delhi should remain neutral and not give the current Kabul administration any military support’. It was also suggested that ‘in this context, India has to attach importance to the interests and attitude of the Taliban. As the Taliban do not want to see India give the current Afghan government any military support, New Delhi may not offer much help even if Ahmedzai asks for it next week during his trip to India. What India is now pursuing is betting on both sides: While maintaining close relations with the Afghan government, it is also seeking to interact with the Taliban. New Delhi is putting its eggs in two baskets. If India supports the Afghan government forces but the Taliban finally wins, the latter will be more supportive of Islamabad. Such a situation will be detrimental to India. India’s biggest concern of Afghanistan is to ensure that an anti-India and pro-Pakistan government does not emerge’.
If India is supposedly going to send its troops, obviously, it will get sucked-into it, as it would first invite retaliation from Pakistan Air Force which will target India’s army, and also by AT, and any such debacle will make it difficult for India to meet to China in Ladakh, Arunachal Pradesh etc. How will India meet to US demand, which has right now been frustrated, as Pakistan, Iran, and Central Asian Republics have all discarded to ascribe to US demand for a military base. The biggest question which faces India is that now Afghanistan is no more a ‘battle’ between India and Pakistan but a war of attrition between US and China.
It is interesting to find Pakistan FM Shah Mehmood Qureshi and its ISI Chief in China to discuss the report of blast at Dasu Dam in KPK (on July 14), in which 9 Chinese and 4 Pakistanis were killed, and later ISI Chief flying to US with it. Is China trying to point a finger towards US? Is this now going to be a new beginning of a new kind of a war between the two super-powers? Right now the big question, in this arising situation, is that if India makes a ‘go-ahead’ with its troops, it will not be to the liking of Pakistan, Iran, China and even Russia which has also discounted India’s waning influence in Afghanistan.
Will India in order to please US court the differences with these nations? Perhaps not? Let’s see what is to happen.
The writer is a former UP State Information Commissioner and a political analyst.