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Mainstream, VOL XLIX, No 49, November 26, 2011

Afghanistan: US Strategy in Conflict with Indian Interests

Sunday 27 November 2011, by Bashir Mohammad

Indian interests in Afghanistan and the region as a whole do not find importance in the US strategy in this part of the world. As a matter of fact the strategy not only ignores but also does not conform to those interests. For all its pronouncements to the contrary, the essential objective of the Obama Administration in Washington is to strike a deal with the ISI and its strategic assets, the Taliban and Haqqani network.

The New Silk Route concept disclosed by the US Secretary of State in Chennai last July is the central point of the deal. Islamabad should pacify the Pathans. In the bargain, Central Asian minerals, hydrocarbons, and other resources and goods will flow to Pakistani ports as well as a diverse range of machinery, electronics and garments in the reverse direction. Pakistan is to get huge invest-ments in its communications and infrastructure thereby helping it to flourish enormously.

As for New Delhi, it will be a mute spectator, just a bystander. The US is quite voluble in claiming that it is eager to help India and Pakistan normalise mutual trade and at the same time assist in opening the land routes to Central Asia for the benefit of the Indian business community. In reality Washington will be more than satisfied if the current tragi-comedy of granting or not granting MFN status to India continues interminably in Islamabad.

That is not all. With American backing the ISI is bound to get the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project. In this scenario what is most likely to happen is the following: whenever New Delhi seeks to press Islamabad to call a halt to the unending waves of terror from across the border, the Pakistani Generals would stop the delivery of gas under one technical reason or another. No international consortium would be in a position to take punitive financial measures against them. However, in the process all Indian industries and power stations utilising Turkmen gas would remain almost perm-anently dysfunctional. Such an apprehension is not a mere figment of imagination in the present setting.

The ulterior motive of Washington becomes increasingly transparent if one takes note of the fact that the US meanwhile is effectively blocking India’s only reliable route to Afghanistan and the former Soviet Union—the one through Iran. This is how the US aims to further its nefarious designs to the detriment of the interests of India in particular as well as those of other friendly states in this country’s neighbourhood.

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