MOTIVATION Afghanistan seek India’s role in Afghanistan


Being an
Afghanistan’s citizen and studying in India obviously studying the geopolitical
relations of the two countries is the subject of my interest. I have chosen the
topic to increase my knowledge about the two countries’ relationship and
different factors and dimensions that holds this relationship.

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India is
the fastest developing economy in the region and on the other hand Afghanistan
is a poor country struggling with security issues and instability. Indian has
been helping Afghanistan and has spent millions of dollars. I wanted to know
what the bilateral benefits of the relationship are.

the president of the US Donald Trump in his new strategy for Afghanistan seek
India’s role in Afghanistan to increase and help US in bringing peace and
stability to the country. Therefore, I wanted to study about the topic and see
in which aspects India can really assist Afghanistan and what are the future
potential for strengthening the bilateral relationship.


To study
the origin and nature of India’s current geopolitical relation with Afghanistan.

review the current situation of Indo-Afghan relationship and to identify the
dimensions that hold the relationship strengthen.

To make
recommendations for future based on the study’s learnings.


What has been done?

First of
all the origin and nature of India’s current geopolitical relation with
Afghanistan has been discussed and five existing scholarly works have been
studied and their theme has been cited. Then, the current situation of
Indo-Afghan geopolitical relationship (post 2010) have been analysed and the
different aspects of the relationship discussed. Finally, the learnings have
been pointed out and future recommendations are made.

& Type of data:

study is based on the secondary data. The data were collected from various
authentic secondary sources such as Research Papers, Journals, Articles, and
various websites.


India and Afghanistan have a warm and friendly relationship that starts from
politics and extends to cultural, economic and social aspects. This close
relationship has roots in the olden history and originates from the Indus
valley civilisation. Keeping both the governments and politics aside, we will
come to know that the relationship between the two countries has its
foundations in the historical links, sharing similar values and exchanges
between their citizens.

In the
past few decades, Afghanistan has been dealing with war and terrorism, aggression
of superpowers as well as internal political problems that has led to
instability in the South Asian region. The role of India in this area is to
neutralize these impacts with its powerful diplomacy, rehabilitation and
development programs, encouragement of peace and prosperity etc. Eliminating of
terrorism from Afghanistan is needed to keep peace in South Asian region.

the Indo-Afghan alliance has a high value as a counter to the Pakistan threat. From
strategic and security point of view, India’s focus in Afghanistan is combat
with terrorism, cut down or lower Pakistan’s influence, pursuing policy of aid,
economic development and integration with the intention to achieve the goal of
becoming a major power in the world. It is also mentionable that Pakistan sees
the ever increasing influence of India in Afghanistan as a threat. There are
allegations that Pakistan escalate terrorist attacks against Indians in
Afghanistan. Therefore, India has to act with at most caution in this

India is
also interested in exploiting Afghanistan’s energy sources and changing it into
a bridge for connecting India to Central Asian resources. Both Afghanistan and
India being members of SAARC also helps India to involve actively in the region
and counter the growing clout of China.

it should not be forgotten that the geopolitical relation of India and Afghanistan
is in line with the United States’ policy. The US wants India to work as its
ally and increase its role in Afghanistan. The US president Donald Trump
announced the new US strategy for South Asia in 2017 calling India as “a key
security and economic partner of the US” and asked India to have a larger role
in providing economic and development assistance to Afghanistan. On the other
hand he condemned Pakistan for giving safe havens to terrorists.


Kaur (2017), claimed that India and Afghanistan have a very
long historical record of technical and economic collaborations in different
fields. She states that even before 1979 Afghanistan was the biggest partner of
India in the field of economic and technical programs. After 2001 and removal
of Taliban regime Indo-Afghan relation became multidimensional.

She further
pointed out the role of India in supporting the Northern Alliance of
Afghanistan against Pakistan-backed Taliban in 1990s that has strengthen its
position in Kabul. She also mentioned that the volume of trade and economic
cooperation between India and Afghanistan have been on the rise recently as
India hopes that its investment on Chabahar port will lead it to Afghanistan
bypassing Pakistan 1.

Sendhilkumar (2015), explained the importance of Indian assistance
to Afghanistan. He stated that India has gained unforgettable reputation from
the wold by assisting Afghanistan. This assistance will help in vanishing
terrorism because if India keeps assisting Afghanistan, their people will
realize the humanitarian approach of India and make a cordial relationship with
it.  This will eventually lead to ban in
sending Afghan youths to Pakistan for training that might be used against India
in the future 2.

Subhash Kapila (2011), concentrated more on India-Afghanistan
Strategic Partnership Agreement. After referring to the long historical and
civilizational links between both the countries that exist even before
India-Pakistan division, he emphasized that India is a responsible partner in
Afghanistan’s stability and security. He accused Pakistan of bringing conflict
in Afghanistan and destabilizing the country either directly or indirectly
using its surrogate mercenary organizations. He concluded that it is obvious
that Afghanistan would turn towards India which is an honest partner and
committed to its stability and development. However, he also pointed out that
the strategic partnership of Indo-Afghan is not possible without blessing of
the United States of America 3.

Price (2013), explained the cultural and civilizational ties
of India and Afghanistan throughout a long history. He stated that Indian films
and their actors are very famous in Afghanistan that is an evidence of cultural
ties. He also pointed out the role of education in this relationship and
brought as an example the fact that ex-president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai,
was partly educated in India.

concluded that the military and security angle of Indo-Afghan relationship is
kept lower but its economic and socio-cultural aspects has significantly
developed. Indian policy in Afghanistan has shifted from anti-Pakistan strategy
to a desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan in order to prevent return
of Islamic extremists and cultivate a government in Kabul that lean towards
India than Pakistan 4.

Amin et al. (2015), Explained economic dimension of Indo-Afghan
relationship. India as a developing economy needs to expand its market and
reach the Central Asian countries. Afghanistan on the other hand acts as a
bridge that links central, west and south Asia to the Gulf. Therefore, India
can play an important role to establish the New Silk Road as a commercial link
between central and South Asia. As a result India will access the central Asia
and Iran’s energy and resources and Afghanistan will get advantage of
functioning as route of the transit 5.


If we
have a look at the Indo-Afghan relation after 2010 we will come to know that the
relationship between India and Afghanistan have been strengthening recently.
Signing the Strategic Partnership Agreement between the two countries on
October 4, 2011 turned a new page in the political relations of the countries.
The agreement was important because at the time the international forces were
planning their withdrawal from Afghanistan and transferring the security
responsibilities to Afghanistan’s army, India stood beside Afghans and declared
its strategic support.

the two countries’ close relationship goes beyond security and political aspect
as India has also helped Afghanistan in its economic affairs, infrastructure
building, encouraging investment in its natural resources, health and
education, socio-cultural aspects etc. A high level political engagement have
been going on between the two countries which is reflected in numerous high
level visits of the politicians including Prime Ministers, Presidents,
Ministers and other high level authorities from both the sides since 2011.

held its recent presidential election in 2014. After two rounds of elections
still the Election Independent Committee was not able to announce the result
due to high accusations and allegations regarding electoral-fraud. The
Afghanistan’s government almost lost its credibility and finally by mediation
of United Nation and then United States Secretary of State John Kerry a
political agreement signed and the national unity government formed in
Afghanistan. Even under those circumstances India stood beside Afghanistan and
continued its support towards building a peaceful and developed nation.

The current
geopolitical relations between India and Afghanistan is concentrated on the few
key dimensions that we can call them as the backbone of Indo-Afghan friendly
relationship. Some of the dimensions are as follows:


is the main issue in Afghanistan. It is the biggest barrier that has hampered
the development of the country. India has always wanted a prosperous and
peaceful Afghanistan and in this end it has supported Afghanistan both
financially and strategically. Gifting three Cheetal helicopters and four Mi25
Attack helicopters in 2015 is an example of these supports.


has tremendously helped Afghanistan in building infrastructure over the past
few years. Constructing Afghanistan’s Parliament building at the cost of USD 90
million (work completion- December 2015), Afghan-India Friendship Dam
(previously known as Salma dam) at the cost of USD 290 million (work completion
–June 2016) and hundreds of other projects are examples of India’s role in
Afghanistan’s infrastructure building.


benefit plays a vital role in every international relation. In fact nowadays
political relations and strategies are based on economic interest of the
countries. India in order to access Central Asian countries’ oil and gas
resources easily and expand the market for the Indian products has been helping
Afghanistan to develop the Chabahar Port. This port also helps India to compete
with the Chinese who are constructing Gwadar Port in Pakistan.

Afghanistan’s economic point of view this port is very important because it
enables the landlocked country to import its needful commodities at lower cost
by cutting the Pakistan’s role in between and preventing its heavy customs
duties. Further it frees the country from Pakistan’s political pressure
(Previously if there was a political conflict between Pakistan and Afghanistan,
Pakistan would ban its borders as a mean of pressure and Afghanistan had no
other way to import commodities). Furthermore, two air corridors linking Kabul
with Delhi and Mumbai launched in 2017 that help Afghanistan to export its dry
and fresh fruits, medicinal plants and handicrafts to India.


has a rich culture in its 2500 years of history. It acts as a bridge between
civilization of Persia, India and Middle East. Unfortunately, the past four
decades of war have undermined its unique traditions of arts and crafts.  India and Afghanistan have common cultural
heritage of hundreds years old. Their culture connects in the areas of music,
arts, architecture, food and language. Nowadays, the majority of Afghan
musicians, singers and movie actors are being trained in India.

movies and TV series own lots of popularity in Afghanistan. The TV series Saas
Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kasauti Jindagi Ki were the first of their type that
were shown and followed by almost every Afghan family owning TV after
elimination of Taliban regime in Afghanistan.


to the Education Attache of Afghanistan’s Embassy in India currently (2018) more
than fifteen thousand Afghan students are studying in India. This includes both
military and civil students who have come through different means, namely,
Afghanistan’s government scholarship, India’s scholarship through ICCR and
privately financed.


If we
pay a visit to the hospitals in New Delhi we will come to know the extent of
medical collaboration between the two countries. Daily tens of patients come
under medical visa to India and are being treated. India’s donation of 5
million US dollars fund to treat Afghan child with congenital heart disease in
India in 2015 is an example of this collaboration.


has played an important role in reconstruction and rehabilitation programs of
Afghanistan. Its developmental assistance now reaches USD 2 billion. These
include the fields of agriculture, technology, sustainable development, road
and transportation etc.


ü  The geopolitical relations between India and
Afghanistan has a long history and traces back to the Indus Valley

ü  In late 1990s, India played its role as a key
supporter of the Northern Alliance of Afghanistan against Pakistan backed

ü  India’s support and assistance to Afghanistan
starts from war against terrorism and security assistance and extends to
rebuilding of air links, power plants, cultural supports, huge investment in
health and education sector, training Afghan civil servants and police.

ü  In 2005 Afghanistan joined SAARC with the
India’s invitation and both the countries developed strategic and military

ü  The Afghanistan-India Strategic Partnership
Agreement signed in 2011 plays a vital role in developing the countries’
relationship in multiple ways.

ü  India believes that long term investment should
be done in Afghanistan in order to gain sustainable development and exploit its
natural resources. In this end, India has been promoting investment in
Afghanistan and a group of Indian companies consist of public and private
companies has been chosen to make a huge investment in Afghanistan’s mining
sector in the Hajigak iron ore reserves.

ü  India with commitment of USD 2 billion has
become one of the largest donor to Afghanistan. It has been assisting the
country in different fields like development projects, infrastructure building,
agriculture, military, health and education etc.

benefit from Afghanistan’s assistance:

ü  Afghanistan’s main benefit is its geography.
Anyone who have high influence on it controls the land routes among the Indian
subcontinent, Islamic Republic of Iran and central Asia. As most of the
political relations are based in economic interest from this point of view,
Afghanistan is a gateway to oil and mineral rich Central Asian nations. That is
the main reason almost every major power including India wants a part in it.

ü  Furthermore, the massive reconstruction and rehabilitation
plans on going in the country is seen as lots of opportunities for Indian

ü  Due to warm historical relationship between the
two countries, Indian movies have become a part of Afghan culture, while Afghan
handicrafts, fresh and dry fruits, saffron etc. makes exports of Afghanistan to

ü  Politically, a pro-India government in Afghanistan
would disrupt Pakistan’s influence on Afghanistan.


has been a key supporter of Afghanistan in development areas. However it has
been refraining from wide military support. In the future India should expand
its military alliances to Afghanistan against Taliban and terrorism. In one
hand it will strengthen the Afghan army and deepen Indo-Afghan strategic
partnership and on the other hand it will improve India-US relationship.

the air corridor between the two countries have been launched but Afghanistan’s
product will come to India very costly. More investment should be made to
connect India to Afghanistan through Iran by water so that the high quality
products of Afghanistan like saffron, fresh and dry fruits, silk, rugs, and
handicrafts can be exported easily and with low cost to India. On the other
hand Indian products can replace Pakistan’s in a large extent.

sector in Afghanistan is extremely weak. The need for huge investment in
different fields are needed. It is recommended that Indian companies invest in
Afghanistan. Due to need in foreign investments Afghanistan will not levy high
duties and taxes. Therefore, it will be very cost effective to make some
production bases over there.

India is
one of the largest countries in agricultural production and it has been
donating a lot of agricultural products like specifically wheat to Afghanistan
either directly or through world food program (WFP) but that is not beneficial
in long term. Afghanistan owns enough agricultural land and water. India should
assist in providing irrigation facilities and machineries like tractors etc.

India is
good at information technology so it should assist Afghanistan technologically
and invest in this field to benefit the country for long term period.
Furthermore, in the cultural area, India and Afghanistan can share their values
with respect to cinema and film productions, music, sports etc. Bollywood film
Industry can help Afghanistan’s newly born film industry in a huge extent.


and Afghanistan has a strong friendly relationship currently. This geopolitical
relation is multi-layered and ranges from security angle to economic and social
dimensions. India’s policy is that with alliance of the United States of America
retrieve Afghanistan from the purgatory of conflict that is being supported
somehow by Pakistan indirectly through proxy mercenaries.

stability is important for South Asia’s regional safety and that is one of the other
reasons that India has been taking a large part in reconstructing and
rehabilitation of the country besides looking into the country as bridge to
Central Asian rich market.


Literature Review:

1. Bineet
Kaur (2017), “India – Afghanistan: An Analysis of Strategic and Security
Concerns”, Mainstream, VOL LV, No. 9 (New Delhi).

2. D. Sendhilkumar (2015), “The importance of India Assistance to
Afghanistan: A critical analysis”, African Journal of Political Science and
International Relations, Vol. 9(11), pp. 386-392.

3. Dr
Subhash Kapila (2011), “Afghanistan-India Strategic Partnership: A
Perspective Analysis”, South Asia Analysis Group, pp.4731.

4. Gareth Price (2013), “India’s policy towards Afghanistan”,
published in: Chatham House, pp. 2-10.

5. Rohullah Amin et al. (2015), “India and Afghanistan: An
overview of their economic relations”, Agro Economist – An International
Journal, VOL 2, No. 2, pp. 19-27