India to train Afghan army
* Stratfor says training to cover counter-insurgency operations
By Khalid Hasan, Daily Times, april 14, 2008
WASHINGTON: Another sign of the growing alliance between India and Afghanistan that threatens Pakistan is the fact that the Indian Army will train that of Afghanistan in counterinsurgency operations, according to Stratfor, a US news intelligence service.
While the Indian defence minister has ruled out any military involvement in Afghanistan, the increased co-operation between New Delhi and Kabul puts Pakistan in a weakened position with its neighbours, according to Stratfor. The Afghan defence minister on a visit to India, spent time at the 15th Corps of the Indian Army headquartered in Srinagar.
It says that Afghanistan may also be considering sending its air force pilots for training to India. The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) can also use the increased interest in Indian involvement in counterterrorism with Afghanistan as leverage against Pakistan to rein in militants on its soil, says the commentary.
Stratfor writes that India and Afghanistan are pushing the idea that the faster India trains the Afghan Army, the quicker NATO can withdraw troops from Afghanistan. India’s goal is to gain a toehold in the Afghan military establishment, creating goodwill that it can cash in when the time comes. This prospect is worrisome to Pakistan. New Delhi’s key interest in Afghanistan has to do with its security vis-a-vis Pakistan, and the transnational Islamist militant groups believed to be based there. Long before the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan during the 1980s, Islamabad viewed Kabul as aligned with New Delhi, Stratfor points out. “Pakistan felt sandwiched between its archrival to the east and a hostile regime to the west. Another issue was secular left-leaning Pakistani Pashtun forces were pushing for a separate homeland for their ethnic group — a demand backed by Afghanistan in those days. To deal with these threats, the Pakistanis decided to employ the Islamist card to counter Pashtun nationalism on both sides of the Durand Line,” the commentary adds.
Thus, when it comes to Pakistan and its complicated relationship with neighbours Afghanistan and India, it appears what goes around comes around,” Stratfor concludes.