India - Afghanistan Relations UPSC IAS Target

India - Afghanistan Relations UPSC

12 Nov 2019

Category : International Relations

Topic: India - Afghanistan Relations UPSC


Bilateral relations between India and Afghanistan have traditionally been friendly and strong as well. India was the only South Asian country to identify the USSR backed Afghanistan in the 1980s; however, relations were weakened during the 1990s Afghan civil war and the Taliban government. India assisted in the overthrow of the Taliban government and became the largest regional provider of reconstruction and humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. Indians are working on several projects, as part of India's rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan. India is one of the biggest regional donors to Afghanistan and the 5th largest donor globally with $3 billion in assistance.

India-Afghanistan relation in history

Relations between the people of India and Afghanistan traces to the Indus Valley Civilization. Following Alexander, the Great's brief occupation, the successor state of the Seleucid Empire controlled erstwhile Afghanistan, later in 305 BC Indian Maurya Empire rule the region. The Mauryan fetched Buddhism from India and restricted the area. Much of Afghanistan had been influenced by Buddhist, Hindu, and Zoroastrian cultures until the arrival of Islam in the 7th century. Between the 10th century and the mid-18th century, northern India has been invaded by some invaders based on what today is Afghanistan. And among them were the Ghaznavids, Suris, Ghurids, Khaljis, Mughals, and Durranis. During these eras, many Afghans started settling in India because of political unrest in their regions.

USSR war in Afghanistan

USSR invasion of Afghanistan, in late December 1979 by troops from the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union intruded in support of the Afghan communist government in its clash with Muslim guerrillas and during the Taliban-Afghan War (197892) and remained in Afghanistan until mid-February 1989. In April 1978 USSR helped the Afghanistan government was overthrown by military officers led by Nur Mohammad Taraki. The new government, which had little popular support, fake close ties with the Soviet Union, launched an attack on all domestic opposition and started extensive land and social reforms that were opposed by the Muslim and largely anti-communist population.
Revolts arose against the government and this revolt was entirely Islamic in nature. These uprisings, internal fighting, and revolutions within the government prompted the USSR to invade the country on the night of December 24, 1979, and toppling the short-lived presidency of Hafizullah Amin, but USSR helped Karmal was unable to gain public support. Afghan army failed to control internal disturbances and the country witnessed mass desertions and Afghan army remained largely ineffective throughout the war. Later USSR attempts of bombing and depopulating the rural areas. These diplomacies sparked an immense flight from the countryside; by 1982 Afghans had sought asylum in Iran and Pakistan. The mujahideen were assisted by the United States in the war against USSR and Afghanistan state. The mujahideen received arms and other supports and war materials shipped to the rebels, via Pakistan, by the United States and other countries. The war in Afghanistan became an impasse for what by the late 1980s was the disintegrating Soviet Union.
India was the only South Asian country to identify the USSR-backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Following the withdrawal of the USSR forces from Afghanistan in 1989, India sustained to support the Afghanistan government with humanitarian aid. After its descend India together with the international community supported the coalition government, but relations between Afghanistan and India ended with the spate of another civil war, which brought to power the Taliban, supported by Pakistan. In 1999, the hijacked Indian Airlines Flight 814 landed and stayed in Kandahar in Afghanistan, and the Taliban were supposed of supporting them.

India-Afghanistan relation in the 21st century

  • India is succoring to train Afghan civil servants, police, and diplomats
  • Indian government provides Afghan students scholarships
  • The new Afghan Parliament building has been built by India.
  • India's support and collaboration extends to the rebuilding of air links, power plants and investing in health and education, and other infrastructure projects in different sectors
  • After the overthrow of the Taliban, India established diplomatic relations with the newly established democratic government.
  • India provided aid and participated in the reconstruction efforts and largest regional provider of support to Afghanistan.

The Indian Army's Border Roads Organisation constructed a major road connecting Delaram to Zaranj. This has proved a viable another route for the duty-free movement of goods through the Chabahar port in Iran to Afghanistan, that bypasses Pakistan, helping diminish the Afghan economy's dependence on Pakistan. India pursues a policy of close collaboration with countries such as Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Iran in order to strengthen its standing as a regional power and contain its rival Pakistan. Pakistan was accused of aiding and abetting Islamic militants in Kashmir and other states of India. On 18 October 2009, the Indian delegation in Kabul was attacked again by a car bomb, little more than a year after the Mumbai attack. These were repeatedly attacked by those who did not support India's development assistance and its contribution to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Afghanistan and actively supported by Pakistan agencies.

Significance of Afghanistan for India

  • Afghanistan is a gateway to energy-rich Central Asia & positioned at crossroads between Middle & East South Asia
  • Afghanistan has significant oil and gas reserves and has a rich source of rare earth materials
  • India was the first country, to which Afghanistan selected to sign a Strategic Partnership Agreement.
  • India and Afghanistan also signed the TAPI pipeline project that aims to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan and Pakistan to India
  • The enormous reconstruction plans for the country offer lots of opportunities for Indian companies.
  • In the absence of a transit route through Pakistan, India depends on other countries, including Iran, to send goods to Afghanistan even though it increases time and costs for Indian exporters.
  • The stable government in Kabul is essential to lessen terror activities across south Asia & in J & K. militants also get support from the Afghan-based group and involve in terrorist activities in Central Asia
  • Central Asian region is known for petroleum, minerals, and other resources while this region can also be a market for Indian products. These countries also want to reduce their dependence on China
  • India donated Mi-25 attack helicopters to Afghanistan as part of the bilateral strategic partnership to counter the Taliban

Recently, India and Afghanistan launched a dedicated air freight corridor service. This air corridor will provide Afghanistan, a landlocked country, and greater access to markets in India. India is also cooperating with Afghanistan and Iran for the development of the Chahbahar Port which provides another route to Afghanistan and Central Asia. India hosted the sixth Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia at which the Amritsar Declaration was adopted. It called for the immediate reduction of terrorism to support Afghanistan in its political and economic transition.