India in Afghanistan and Beyond: Opportunities and Constraints
C. Christine Fair, The Century Foundation, 9/28/2010
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The international community has been ambivalent about India’s profile in Afghanistan. While the Afghan government and its international partners welcome India’s constructive role, many also worry about the negative externalities associated with India’s footprint in the country, particularly with respect to Pakistan, which has long feared Indian encirclement and complains sharply about India’s expanding presence in Afghanistan. In this report, Christine Fair outlines India’s current interests in Afghanistan, how it has sought to achieve its aims, and the consequences of its actions for India, Pakistan, and the international efforts to stabilize Pakistan and Afghanistan. She argues that India’s interests in Afghanistan are not only Pakistan-specific but also tied to India’s desire to be seen as an extra- regional power moving toward great power status. This papers details:
India’s role in Afghanistan. India deems Afghanistan’s stability essential to its security outlook, fearing that a resurgent Taliban would provide support for militant groups with an anti-Indian agenda.
The India-Pakistan-U.S. triangular relationship. The U.S. is in a difficult position, Fair argues, trying to pursue independent relationships with either India or Pakistan.
The way forward for the U.S. Attempts to solve this regional dilemma have not met with much progress over the past decade, and, absent a change in the U.S. approach, the outlook is not promising.