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Wednesday, November 25

Afghanistan's bold pivot to India is long overdue

"An October 2015 [U.S.] Congressional Research Service report supports Afghanistan’s claim that Pakistan interferes with Afghan internal affairs and supports proxy elements fighting an undeclared war against Afghanistan."

By the way Russia has been giving -- outright giving -- Afghanistan desperately needed weapons and ammunition for years. That news surfaced recently at RT or Sputnik. 

As to why no NATO country has provided the Afghans with enough materiel to fight a war launched against them by Pakistan, and why Afghanistan had to turn to India for desperately needed attack helicoters, shall we ring up NATO and ask them?  Or ask lobbyists for the American company that makes F-16 fighter jets and its Man Men in Congress?

From Foreign Policy magazine (a conduit for the U.S. Department of State); Nov 25, 2015, by Shawn Snow: Ghani’s Pivot Away From PakistanReaching out to India may bring immediate benefits for Afghanistan, but will weakening ties with Pakistan be the cost?
The October 2015 announcement that a Pakistani operative was the focus of U.S. airstrikes on the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) facility in Kunduz only widened the rift between Pakistan and Afghanistan, lowering expectations for any future reconciliation between the Taliban and Kabul. American intelligence analysts had tracked an alleged Pakistani operative to the MSF facility, believing this individual was working for Pakistani intelligence and coordinating battlefield efforts for the Taliban in Kunduz. Pakistan has staunchly denied any involvement in the Kunduz operation, rejecting accusations linking its government to direct aid of the Taliban.
No longer willing to rely on Pakistan to end its interventionist policy in Afghanistan, Ghani has decided to revive his predecessor’s strategy and approach Pakistan’s longtime foe, India. It is anyone’s guess whether Ghani’s bold move will pay off, though it is sure to generate anxiety in Pakistan.
But Islamabad has failed to grasp what Afghanistan stands to gain from a stronger relationship with India.
For Kabul, the benefits of strengthened ties between Afghanistan and India go well beyond military hardware. Afghanistan provides India access to Iran’s port of Chabahar, providing India with a direct route to Central Asian markets and facilitating North-South transit trade throughout the region, creating “the Asian roundabout, a key hub of in the revival of the Silk road[sic],” as Ghani said at the BRICS Summit in Ufa, Russia, earlier this year. Strengthening trade ties with Afghanistan allows India to project economic power in the region and demonstrate that its foreign policy is not dictated by Pakistan and China.
By granting India access to the port of Chabahar and the Delaram-Zaranj road, which connects the Afghan-Iranian border town Zaranj to major Afghan roads, Afghanistan offers it an alternative to the Gwader port, a mere 72 km (44 miles) away but under the control of China and Pakistan. It also provides India with a surveillance post to monitor Chinese and Pakistani warships in the region.
India and Afghanistan will have to gauge whether the cost-benefit analysis of drawing closer will be worthwhile in the long run. Cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan is vital to achieving peace in the region. India has suffered heavily for interfering in the Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship, as evidenced by the 2008 bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul that left 54 dead.
Afghanistan must also be careful of possible responsive Pakistani actions. An October 2015 Congressional Research Service report supports Afghanistan’s claim that Pakistan interferes with Afghan internal affairs and supports proxy elements fighting an undeclared war against Afghanistan. The report states that Pakistan’s objectives in Afghanistan seek to utilize militant groups to counter Indian influence and create strategic in-roads for Pakistan.
Increasingly, Congress and the Obama administration are validating Afghan claims that Pakistan supports militant groups inside Afghanistan. Washington is growing weary of the Islamabad government and its repeated overtures to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table. Prior to the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif this fall, the White House levied threats to pull its financial assistance to the Pakistani military. However, senior American officials reported prior to the prime minister’s visit that the United States would sell Pakistan eight F-16 fighter jets to assist in its counterterrorism efforts, highlighting the regional importance of Pakistan to the United States, and its understanding of Pakistan’s vital role in the Afghan peace process.
It is too soon to tell if Ghani’s India gamble will pay off, though the pressure on Pakistan to change course has certainly been ramped up. With Pakistan’s recent move to invite India’s foreign minister to attend a regional conference on Afghanistan next month, Pakistan is surely feeling the heat.

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