NEWS & VIEWS
OCCUPATION forces in Afghanistan have brought India as a player in Afghan arena; and with its active role in Afghanistan, Pakistan is the target. After all, Indians are known to have learnt latest propaganda techniques, and with US support it has further strengthened Indo-Afghan propaganda nexus. India has been exploiting sub-nationalists in Pakistan as well as abroad through proxies that are involved in the killing of innocent women, children and men. These terrorist groups abduct, kidnap and then kill innocent Balochs/Sindhis to strengthen their case of missing persons and extra-judicial killings. At the behest of India and other hostile countries, these sub-nationalist organizations spew venom against Pakistan by accusing it of HR abuses and killing of sub-nationalist elements in Balochistan/Sindh etc. In collaboration with Indian think tanks, majority of Sindhi and Balochi sub-nationalist groups are carrying out anti-Pakistan campaign abroad.
Recently, Afghan Ministry of Interior has leaked a letter on social media asking Afghans not to eat dairy products imported from Pakistan. The letter blames ISI and Pakistan for having poisoned the dairy products. Afghans in fact prefer many Pakistani products being halal and comparatively of high quality. Pakistan cannot forget the tradition of Islam vis-à-vis not to cause any harm to citizens and not even to trees during war; hence one cannot imagine of poisoning human beings. In fact, President Ashraf Ghani is drawing flak for being ethnic, secular and for showing utter disregard to Afghan values. His wife Rula Ghani is a practicing Catholic Christian who supports and propagates Christianity. His son Tariq Ghani and daughter Mariyam have US citizenship and are known media and social activists. On Dec 29, 2017, many Afghan Ulema from North based in Kabul issued fatwas against Ashraf Ghani for his anti-Islam and secular stance.
It would be appropriate to mention how US-India nexus developed over a period of time. It was during Bill Clinton’s presidency that efforts were made to have closer relations between US and India; however it was during George W. Bush’s era that concept of strategic partnership with India emerged. The Joint Declaration signed on July 18, 2005 by the then President George W Bush and the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh heralded as the equivalent of President Nixon’s opening to China. America agreed to recognize India as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology and pledged to support its civilian nuclear program and urged others to do the same. Even supporters of closer relations with India had a difficult time to understand why the US made a seemingly large concession on nonproliferation rules in exchange for a vague exchange of Indian support to help the United States combat HIV/AID.
However, US-India relationship was taken to a notch higher when President Barack Obama visited India on 25th January 2015 and attended India’s Republic Day parade on 26th January 2015. The apparent warmth between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then President Obama was visible from the big airport bear hug, chuckles over tea and first-name informality (well, at least on Modi’s part) on a joint radio program. It’s true that no big announcement came out of the visit akin to the dramatic 2005 unveiling of the US-India civil nuclear initiative. Nevertheless, the Republic Day Modi-Obama meeting resulted in some tangible outcomes, and some new markers for how and where India and the United States will take steps together. President Donald Trump has also shown greater reliance on India as a strategic partner in the region. His frequent use of the term Indo-Pacific as a replacement for Asia-Pacific revealed the level of importance Washington places on New Delhi. During a speech in Vietnam, Mr Trump highlighted his desire for a “truly free and open Indo-Pacific,” repeating the term after Secretary of Defence James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used it in earlier remarks. The label’s usage underscores India’s geographic connection to the Asia-Pacific as a cornerstone of the Trump Administration’s strategic thinking, New Delhi, which isn’t one of America’s treaty allies, nonetheless enjoys a robust bilateral relationship based on shared democratic values, and expected to play a significant role. In 2008, there was a proposal for deployment of two Indian army’s divisions in Afghanistan, which was Karzai’s initiative. Indian Establishment was all set to go for the deployment, but was held back due to some wise Indians who warned that India could bog down in Afghanistan like the Soviets and later Americans.
There are reports that Indian military is also on board in Afghanistan and providing MI-25 gunship Helicopters to Afghanistan, which negated the claim of Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman when she declared in September 2017 that India will not send its troops to Afghanistan. Apart from US/NATO, now India is also the major Afghan male and female officers’ trainer of Afghan Army. According to a report, CIA is exploiting private militia like Khost Protection Force (KPF), Afghan Security Gaurds (ASG) and Kandhar Strike Force (KSF) etc, to hunt and kill Taliban. These teams have remained involved in perpetrating crimes and HR violations against civilians and detainees. All such private militias are mostly from Afghan nationals but due to having special links with CIA, they are above the law in Afghanistan. NATO forces are also using them to avoid the direct blame of HR violations in Afghanistan.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.