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  • The Other South Asia

    Though Pakistan and Afghanistan still continue to be embroiled in religious and ethnic conflict, the rest of South Asia appears keen to check and go beyond such tendencies.

    June 20, 2011

    Afghanistan: An idea anticipating peace

    In a positive movement, ISAF’s peace enforcement operation over time will have to shift to peacekeeping. Thinking through the idea of UN-SAARC hybrid peacekeeping mission now could help catalyse the peace process eventually.

    June 06, 2011

    Raviteja asked: Is it right time to move out of Afghanistan in this crucial time for the US?

    Vishal Chandra: It is more about the US priorities at various levels as defined by the current administration. After the elimination of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by the American commandoes in Pakistan, it remains to be seen as to how the US deals with the Pakistani establishment in times to come. The prospect of the US further expanding its operations within Pakistan cannot be ruled out even if the NATO starts withdrawing its forces later this year. In my personal opinion, the US is not going to withdraw lock, stock and barrel from the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Even the process of withdrawal of forces will be a long-drawn affair taking at least four to five years. The pace of American withdrawal will depend also on the ground situation in Afghanistan; threat perceptions among the Western countries; and the preparedness of the Afghan National Security Forces.

    Raviteja asked: Was India getting enough recognition for her efforts in Afghanistan?

    Vishal Chandra replies: Yes, the Indian contribution to Afghan reconstruction has been appreciated and recognised by the Afghan people. India has been the only regional country carrying out development projects based on local community participation across the country. Indian projects are not confined to a particular region or to a relatively peaceful province in Afghanistan. They are not driven by commercial interests either. It would not have been possible for India to complete several of its projects thus far without the goodwill of the Afghan people and support from the Afghan government. Even in most adverse of circumstances and despite several constraints, India continues to assist in rebuilding Afghan capacities. In fact, Indian projects are a model when it comes to carrying out reconstruction activity in an in-conflict situation. It would be unfortunate if the situation deteriorates to a point where it may not be possible for India sustain its presence in Afghanistan.

    India to Stay Relevant in Afghanistan

    The underlying message of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit is to convey to Pakistan, the US and the others that India has strategic interests in Afghanistan.

    May 12, 2011

    Afghan Reconciliation Falling Through

    Various reports on ‘Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan’ produced by the US Department of Defense, 2010 (in coordination with some other departments) have struggled to paint an optimistic picture of the Afghan situation, to maintain the morale of the troops. However, a tacit admission that the Afghan War is not going anywhere can be deciphered from the cautious language used in these reports.

    May 2011

    The Post Osama Possibilities

    The elimination of OBL might not accelerate US withdrawal from Afghanistan, but in all probability this marks the beginning of the end of active US military presence in Afghanistan.

    May 06, 2011

    India’s Limited Options in Afghanistan

    Despite the talk about India having key strategic interests in Afghanistan, it neither has the necessary resources nor the clout to influence developments in Afghanistan.

    April 28, 2011

    Washington’s War & Diplomacy in Afghanistan

    The defence diplomacy of the United States in the midst of the current war against terror in Afghanistan is designed towards ending the US military operations without ceding total authority to the Taliban. The US-led international coalition of forces, that include NATO forces, have failed to crush the Taliban. On the other hand, Taliban have been unable to force the external forces to quit Afghanistan. The US does not want to quit without the assurance that no second 9/11 takes place.

    January 2011

    US Strategy in Afghanistan and Regional Concerns

    India should seek a regional solution to the Afghan conflict, involving a regional force under a UN flag to provide a stable environment for governance and development till the Afghan National Army can take over.

    February 21, 2011