India Prepares To Run From Afghanistan With Tail Between Legs

Dan Qayyum | PKKH

India has decided to run from Afghanistan with its tail between its legs as Pakistan increasingly takes center-stage in bringing stability to war-torn Afghanistan.

CNN-IBN Reports: India plans to ’scale down’ its operations in Afghanistan and will advice its citizens in that country to return home, sources in the government have told CNN-IBN.

The Indian government is considering paring down its presence at reconstruction projects in Afghanistan. Projects underway may be wrapped up quickly and there may be even a freeze on undertaking new projects.

Apart from the embassy in Kabul, the work of consulates in Herat, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad may also be scaled down.

CNN-IBN learns the precarious security situation in Afghanistan–highlighted by the terrorist attacks targeting Indians in Kabul on February 26, is prompting a gradual but significant rethink in New Delhi.

Pakistan Forces India Out Of Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s immediate neighbours – Pakistan, Iran, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, as well as the US, met earlier this year in Turkey to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and to take stock of measures for the restoration of peace in the country. The original “six-plus-two” formula also included Russia, but in the new set up Moscow representation was replaced by the United Kingdom.

Diplomatic sources said Pakistan had been lobbying for the renewal of talks among Afghanistan’s neighbours in order to foil Indian designs of gaining a foothold on Afghan soil.

Pakistan believes India is not an immediate neighbour of Afghanistan and therefore should have limited role in the country.

Turkey was asked to convene that meeting, as it enjoys the backing and trust of Pakistan and is accepted as a neutral party for promoting a common approach to the conflict. The conference urged regional players to work together in order to stabilise Afghanistan and the region.

The revival of the talks group came at a crucial juncture – two days before the London Conference attended by 50 nations to discuss the Afghan issue and deliberate on measures to help the war-ravaged nation. The organisers of the London Conference, like the US, had been trying to convince Pakistan on accepting the greater Indian role in Afghanistan.

India appears to be the biggest loser from the London conference. Not only did Pakistan succesfully manage to keep it out of key decision-making, but also offered to help train 300,000 Afghan Police and Army personnel within the next 2 years – a role that India had been whoring itself out for.

Participants of the London Conference also rejected India’s assertion that there were ‘no degrees of Talibanism – all factions must be fought and destroyed’. India often bundles the Kashmiri militant groups within this classification, in an attempt to discredit the legitimate Kashmiri freedom struggle. New Delhi has even gone to the extent of alleging the presence of Afghan Taliban in Indian occupied Kashmir – which was rejected outright by its own Armed forces, causing massive embarassment.

On the other hand, it is Pakistan that seems to have come out of this conference with its head held high. Not only does the world accept the need for bringing Afghan Taliban into the political frame – a long-standing demand of the Pakistan Army – Pakistan has also been requested to assist in brokering the deal which the US and NATO believe will allow them a safe exit.

General Kayani reportedly told US and NATO commanders in the recent meeting in Brussels that Pakistan intends to take a hands on approach and play a central role in bringing stability to Afghanistan. He also demanded the US and its allies curb Indian influence in Afghanistan as the latter has been supporting terrorism in Pakistan from its many bases on Afghan soil.

The tough, matter-of-fact line on India was in stark contrast to that of the current ‘democratic’ rulers of Pakistan, who have bent over backwards in their attempts to appease both the Indians and the Americans.

In a recent presentation to Pakistani media, Gen Kayani also reiterated his widely reported comments on the Pakistan Army’s view of the situation in Afghanistan and the way forward there – and made it clear that his institution’s “frame of reference” for addressing the problems in that country included certain concerns that are India specific.

History, unresolved issues, India’s military capability and its ‘Cold Start’ doctrine meant that Pakistan could not afford to let its guard down.

“We plan on adversaries’ capabilities, not intentions”, General Kayani said.

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