What Is The Future of Pakistan India Rivalry In Afghanistan?

By Sikander Hayat

United States has declared that at the end of 2014, its army footprint in Afghanistan will be negligible, contained in the designated bases and mostly in training capacity. American army will still have air cover, in case they get attacked by the rebels.
At the same time, in theory at least, Afghanistan should have a new president as Hamid Karzai has already nearly completed his two allowed terms. What new alliance would bring about that new president is still to be seen. A ticket with a Pashtun as president and a Tajik as vice president will have the most chance of winning and will be a stable choice. Anything else will make matters worse especially if Karzai tried to bring forward his own family members or loyalist to the fore. Provided the former scenario takes hold, a stable government is achieved and America leaves as promised, there is a good chance that Afghanistan despite its nascent state and infrastructure will be able to cope with the rebels and starts functioning.
In this scenario near & far neighbours will stay away from the power game in Kabul and let the system develop at its own pace but given the fact that Afghanistan has over the years become a battleground for competing interests, it is not hard to envisage a different scenario.

In this scenario, India gets heavily involved in Afghan affairs. This will trigger a reflex action in Pakistan as they will see it as act of encirclement by India on eastern & western fronts and will try their utmost to break the siege. To achieve this objective, Pakistan will try to strike deals with Pashto speaking tribes of southern & eastern Afghanistan to help them in achieving a federal Afghan state where Pashtun governors will run their provinces with a negligible central control. Throughout its history, Afghanistan has been run as deeply decentralized state where local chiefs and jirgas had a great role to play so it will not be very difficult for Pashto speaking Afghans to envisage such an arrangement. Indeed, there will be backlash from the current Afghan setup in Kabul against any such suggestions but such an arrangement will create buffer between Indian dominated Kabul & Pakistan.
This scenario can be avoided if India understands that it has no land boundaries with Afghanistan and it stops taking actions where they are clearly designed to hurt Pakistan. Current Afghan government is giving sanctuary to the terrorists of Baloch Liberation Army & other terror groups operating in Balochistan province of Pakistan. Indian intelligence agency (RAW) is giving these rebels training, weapons & money to keep their terrorist acts going in Balochistan. Indian Intelligence with help from current afghan government is also giving sanctuary to Pakistani Taliban fighters in Kunar & Nuristan areas of Afghanistan.

Given the current state of Pakistan India relations, I leave you guys to guess which scenario has more chance of taking hold.


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