India, Russia and China in Race to Expand Influence Over Afghanistan; Preventing Re-Talibanization After 2014

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India Afghanistan

From India to Russia and China to Iran, there is a big question mark on the geopolitical condition of the region once the western forces from Afghanistan will depart sometime in 2014. Russia, China, India and the neighbouring states are eager to know America’s and NATO’s strategy after the withdrawal of the forces so that they can prepare themselves to deal with the coming situation.
Each nation including Pakistan, has an objective in Afghanistan to safeguard their interest and maintain peace within the region. However, Pakistan differs from other countries in implementing its objectives in Afghanistan. Pakistan supports Taliban and believes in either Taliban rule in Afghanistan or a coalition of Afghan government with Taliban. It has also made western powers to consider Taliban to be reconciled and establish a power sharing arrangement in the Afghan government. It is believed that the U.S, along with the U.K, France and Germany, is trying to reach out to the Taliban leaders directly. Before the war on terror in Afghanistan there were only three countries: Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who  recognized Taliban. Now there is a good probability that in the coming future more countries are willing to recognize it.

Concerns in India 

India sees Afghanistan as a strategically important country. According to India, Afghanistan is its bordering neighbour, however the part which borders Afghanistan is occupied by Pakistan which India doesn’t recognizes on its national maps. Safeguarding a Taliban free Afghanistan is in interest of India which is one of the favourite target of cross border terrorism. Indians have made over $2 billion of investment in Afghanistan mainly in mining, agriculture, energy, capacity building and infrastructure to make its place secured as a friendly nation. Just to make Afghanistan less dependent on Pakistan for access to the sea, India had been building a highway and rail link from Iranian ports to Afghanistan and Central Asia. India has been acting swift to prevent Pakistan from regaining Afghanistan as its backyard and making it a place to nourish extremism and drugs, taking the land locked country back to 1990s. If Pakistan can ensure its western border safe by having its puppet government in Afghanistan, it will be able to largely concentrate on its eastern border with India. India so far doesn’t have any declared interest of forming military bases in Afghanistan. Although India has deployed soldiers of  Indo Tibetan Border Police in Afghanistan to ensure safety of Indian diplomats and development work in Afghanistan a big military presence in the land locked country in the future may help India to contain its childhood rival.

Concerns in China

China’s establishment in Afghanistan has largely been propelled by its all weather friend, Pakistan. Like India, China has managed to invest nearly $3 billion in Afghanistan. China believes presence of Taliban can affect its business development dreams in Afghanistan. One of the major concern in China is also the extremism in its Xinjiang province whose roots have been identified in Pakistan and Afghanistan. China doesn’t want to take risk of cross border backed development of unrest inside its territory. Specially on this matter, Chinese policy differs than that of Pakistan and for this reason earlier this year China approached India to discuss Afghanistan. India and China may be competitor in Afghanistan for securing tenders and deals, but to sustain there, they need the support of each other and a common ground of strategy. For India, it gives the interpretation that China doesn’t exactly buy Pakistan’s approach of solving Afghanistan’s situation which doesn’t want to exclude Taliban from Afghanistan.

Concerns in Russia

Russia is anxious about the possible reach of Taliban and its ideology to Central Asia and former Soviet republics, which it considers its area of influence. Russia has shown its will to establish new bases in Afghanistan for the repairing of military hardware. Russia is also seeking a broader cooperation with NATO and continuing supporting it through their northern supply route until its withdrawal. The head of the Defense Ministry’s department of international cooperation, Sergey Koshelev, told the press, “maintenance of weapons and military hardware in Afghanistan remains a top priority, as any instability in the country would affect Russia’s own security, as well as the security of other European nations.” 
Presence of either Russia or United States in Afghanistan would be in favour of India. Although India maintains one air base in coordination with Russia in Tajikistan [Read: India Expanding Its Strategic Presence in Other Countries], India doesn’t see itself as a major military expansion power seeking oversea bases. India aided the NATO and northern alliance in Afghanistan during the war against Taliban, and India was also the only country in South Asia to recognize the Soviet backed Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. At least as of now, India has no declared interest of setting up military bases in Afghanistan. India, on the other hand  repeatedly rejected any attempts to reconcile the “good Taliban” within Afghanistan’s system. 
Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai had invited Pakistan’s government and ISI chiefs to take more active role in resolving Afghanistan’s issue, as it had been considered that any agreeable resolution of Afghanistan was impossible without the involvement of Pakistan in it. The assassination of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani in September 2011, which was traced to Taliban, changed everything. Afghanistan made a sudden geopolitical shift and signed strategic pact with India in October 2011 that includes training Afghanistan’s military. 
Russia and China, on the other hand are worried about west’s plan of supporting a government in Afghanistan in cooperation with Taliban. What they fear is that they believe it could become an America-Taliban deal allowing continued presence of America and breaking the future economic and geopolitics dreams of both Russia and China in Afghanistan. However, now the chances of America accepting Pakistan’s formula is low, as now it is clear that Osama bin Laden was hidden in Pakistan and there have been evidence of Pakistan’s ISI and Haqqani network involved against the Indian and American interests in Afghanistan.
India, Russia and China met first time in Moscow on 20th February, 2013 to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. India has also been engaged with the U.S., U.K and Afghanistan for future cooperation. U.S and China are engaged in their own conversation on Afghanistan, and on the other hand India, Russia and China are also involving Iran. The amount of conversation and dialogue between high level diplomats of the countries shows the importance of Afghanistan and their future. Each country is racing to expand its influence over Afghanistan, but the main motive is same, to keep Taliban at bay.
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Sanskar Shrivastava is the founder of international students' journal, The World Reporter. Passionate about dynamic occurrence in geopolitics, Sanskar has been studying and analyzing geopolitcal events from early life. At present, Sanskar is a student at the Russian Centre of Science and Culture and will be moving to Duke University.
  • Ballo Kay

    Talibans Are Not Terrorists But Endia , America & EsraHell Killed Millions Of Innocents

  • Feraq Khab

    @Ballo Kay

    Ballo Key sahib can you prove that taleban are not terrorists? Is this not true that approximately 50,000 innocent peoples of Pakistan have lost their lives? the conspiracy is mostly creating by the religious minded jehadis groups and they trying to prove taleban innocent.

  • Aziz Jan

    who did that? need ur answer …

  • Anonymous

    Afghanistan can be a good strategic point for India to establish its presence in the middle east and to open some trade routes. However Taliban must not be allowed to control the country. It will take the country backwards.

  • Anonymous

    Other than Western marketing – You dirty Indians are as welcome in Khorasan as GW Bush and Cheney + gang.

    Iran has no use of Chahbhar and recognises importance of Gwader. Iran also know who assisted in funding, arming and supporting Rigi brothers from Chahbhar…namely India. Everyone knows TTP are not Pakistan and are not Afghan Taliban so stop peddling your lies and misinformation and everyone knows who arms and funds the TTP to destabilise Pakistan.

    Know who we are the sons of Ghazni, Ghouri and Abdali and know who is Nadir Shah and Zaman Shah but also know who is Babur and Aurangzaib.
    10 years of Western support and marketing to prop up India will come to an end and little Indians need not cause trouble in Khorasan or history will repeat in the Hindu Kush.

    Suggest you Indians stop feeding your massive superficial egos and have a reality check. Khyber and Pakthun is home to proud Pakthuns who send Thier sons to die for Pakistan. 50% of Pakistan army is Pakthun, proud and brave with family in Afghanistan they hate India don’t be optimistic in your deceit and propaganda.

    The year today is 2013 History will take it’s course in 2014 and hope u reflect only post because by 2015 it is The filthy Ganges civilisation that will swiftly learn of it’s real place.

  • Anonymous

    Silly Indians your ego overgrown real geopolitical change in the region…

    Can this dude be any far from the truth.

    If sons of the dirty Ganges agree to the above test the waters replace US boots with Indian boots in 2014 .

    Only then you will appreciate just how much the stench of the Ganges is detested.

  • Anonymous

    TTP are a CIA and Indian creation but thy have failed u and will be flushed out in 2014…

    Then what will u attempt in Central Asia -India.

    Start counting your chickens…. won’t be coming home to roost…..

    WE HATE India figure it out…

    From a Pakthun.

  • Barbara Beardsley

    I do not support the U.S. policy to depart from Afghanistan and I do not support outreach to Taliban. They have shown they bring murder to women and embrace the 12 Century. The religious battles that have enslaves and destroyed the wellbeing of so many are well represented by Taliban. India, Iran, Russia and yes, the U.S. and NATO have an opportunity to bring a reasonable life to the TRIBES of Afghanistan. Not Western ethics or Western choices but the right of that nation to live without killing and threats. India is in Afghanistan. Iran and India are agreeing on commerce and the mining of minerals are of great interest to the Chinese and Iran and Russia. This small nation could provide an opportunity to destroy the Taliban, force the Pakistani’s to stop pounding their crazed desire for military rule, threats and proliferation that have enslaved their own people and kept them poor, ant hopefully, learned that having a nuclear weapon means the end of their country as well as this planet. Complicated but turning a back on Afghanistan is not the answer. This is reality that the U.S. and Germany and those others who enabled proliferation, have to deal with.