Rajya Sabha TV India’s World: Afghanistan and Regional Stability
Taliban fighters launched an assault on the city of Ghazni, Afghanistan beginning on 10th August 2018, which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of insurgents, soldiers, police and civilians. The Afghan Government was successful in control of Ghazni city after five days of fighting. Such attacks by groups like Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan have been creating internal issues in the nation. Running a State Government having a control over large parts of the nation has not been easy and needs efforts by neighboring nations and other groupings.
STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF AFGHANISTAN’S LOCATION:
Map of Afghanistan
- Afghanistan, located in South Asia, is a landlocked country bordered by Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China.
- Afghanistan has a strategic location and it connected the cultures of the Middle East and other parts of Asia by the Silk Road. It has been home to various peoples and witnessed several military campaigns by Alexander the Great, Mauryas, Muslim Arabs, Mongols, British, Soviet, and since 2001 by the United States with NATO-allied countries.
- Much of Afghanistan’s territory covers the Hind Kush range that stretches along Afghanistan-Pakistan border and has been historically a significant sector of Buddhism and acted as a passageway during the invasions of the Indian subcontinent. It is still important during modern era warfare in the nation.
- The 2430km long Durand line, established in 1896, is the international border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is described very dangerous from a geopolitical and geostrategic perspective and, lot of insurgency and other related activities has occurred across the porous border for years.
POLITICAL HISTORY OF AFGHANISTAN:
- The political history of the modern state of Afghanistan started with the Hotak and Durrani dynasties in 18th It became a part of “Great Game” between British India and the Russian empire in 19th century and became free of foreign influence after the Third Anglo-Afghan War in 1919 (by Anglo Afghan Treaty of 1919). It then became a monarchy till 1970s, and then a Soviet Union protectorate till Soviet Afghan War in the 1980s.
- Taliban then ruled it after 1996 as a totalitarian regime till it was removed by NATO-led coalition in 2001 forming a new democratically elected government political structure.
- Hamid Karzai became the first ever democratically elected head of state in 2004 and the current President is Ashraf Ghani, since 29 September 2014.
PRESENT SITUATION AND ANALYSIS:
- Even after formation of a democratically elected government and removal of Taliban from power in Afghanistan, it still faces several internal issues and multipronged attacks by groups like Taliban and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).
- Taliban still controls very large parts of Afghanistan and insurgency and terrorist forces are still strong in the nation. The control of government is limited only to urban areas and highways in reality.
- US led NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) forces have been in Afghanistan in the longest conflict engagement since World War II. They are trying to establish a Government in Afghanistan to a substantial extent and there is a ‘Rule of Law’.
ROLE OF INDIA IN AFGHANISTAN:
- India has focused on development of infrastructure and military aid in Afghanistan. India has aided the overthrow of Taliban and became the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan.
- India wants to improve transport connectivity and economic collaboration with countries in Central and South Asia. India has invested billions of dollars in Afghanistan and has worked on projects like Salma Dam.
- India is also investing in the expansion of Chabahar port in Southeastern Iran, which will improve its connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Groups like Taliban and ISIS have been trying to get a control over Afghanistan using violent means. There is thus, a need for some kind of strong regional grouping (like Heart of Asia platform)- both diplomatic and military– to help in improving the control of Afghanistan Government over the region and tackle threats like terrorism and extremism in the region.