India is behaving as a threatening neighbour to all South Asian countries, especially Pakistan. Unnecessarily, that country wishes to dominate its smaller neighbours with a sugar coated but coercive strategy. It always tries that their policies, particularly, the foreign policies should not clash with its policy of establishing hegemony in South Asia. Although, apparently, through its clever diplomacy, India creates an impression at world forums that it is friendly to all its neighbouring countries and wants a cohesive and mutually friendly South Asia.
Factually India has been using a veiled coercive strategy to compel all other South Asianeighbours not to question its dominance in South Asia. Pakistan is the only country that resists Indian hegemony by insisting that India should resolve all its disputes, including the Kashmir dispute through a dialogue as per United Nations Security Council’s resolutions asking for holding a plebiscite in Kashmir.
Therefore, while India continues to prolong the dialogue with Pakistan for years without making it result oriented and also quite often discontinues the dialogue based on small excuses, it is also struggling to create an adverse strategic situation by militarily encircling Pakistan. This India is doing with an intention to ultimately compel Pakistan to accept Indian hegemony in South Asia. To achieve this objective, India is continuously struggling to increase its military footprint towards Pakistan’s western and northern borders, especially in Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
India had built very close relations with the former Northern Alliance in Afghanistan in 1990s by supporting them during their resistance to the Taliban struggle to take over Afghanistan. In the aftermath of 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US, and the beginning of the global war against terror in Afghanistan in 2002, India used its old ties with the former Northern Alliance leaders to build very strong strategic and military relations with Afghanistan since Afghanisstan’s successive governments installed in the post 9/11 period were being dominated by the members of the former Northern Alliance. In this context, India received a major boost in 2011 with the signing of a strategic partnership agreement with the Hamid Karazai government.As part of this partnership agreement, India is already training Afghan National Army’s officers in India and men in Afghanistan. It has also provided the military equipment including artillery guns and MI-25 attack helicopters to the ANA. In view of its very close military relations with Afghanistan, many Indian analysts have recommended to the Indian government to place India’s military and air power to support ANA in its operations against the Taliban.
Since last about ten years, India is also using Afghan soil to destabilize Pakistan by supporting terrorist attacks in Pakistan. It has sent its intelligence operatives under cover with the personnel of its Border Security Force in Afghanistan, that is there to provide protection to the Indian personnel working on small development projectsin Afghanistan. These intelligence personnel along with Indian intelligence operatives based in the four consulates established along Afghanistan cities near its border with Pakistanare destabilizing border areas, major cities like Karachi and Quetta and Balochitan province of Pakistan.This India’s involvement to destabilize Pakistan was also confirmed by Mr Haegal, the former Defence Secretary of the US and General Mc Crystal (retired), the former Commander of the ISAF forces in Afghanistan.
Likewise, since last many years, India is also struggling to establish strategic politico-military relations with Tajikistan located near Wakhanprovince of Afghanistan.In this context India is building on its old strategic relations with Tajikistan of 1990s when both India and Tajikistan jointly militarily supported the leaders of the former Northern Alliance of Afghanistan in their resistance against Taliban’s offensive. India had expanded the runway of Ayni Airbase ofTajikistan, located near Wakhan province, also very close to Pakistan, and installed other technical means to use that base for providing the military support to the Northern Alliance.
As stated in an article by Ms Catherine Putz of July 15 2015, in the Diplomat, India is still trying to get that Airbase on lease to place its fighter aircraft there and Tajikistan leaders were also willing to do that. However,due to Russia’s resistance, so far, the Tajikistan leaders have been reluctant to lease the Airbase to India. But in future this deal is likely since India may be able to influence Russia.
Therfore, Pakistan needs to exercise vigilance against such Indian moves and should intensely struggle to fail such efforts by establishing good relations with Afghanistan and its Northern neighbours.
— The writer works for Islamabad Policy Research Institute, a think tank based in Islamabad.