FB   
 
Powered bysps
        Society for Policy Studies
 
 

 
Still in the pipeline
Posted:Dec 17, 2015
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
By Vivek Katju
 
Vice President Hamid Ansari joined Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Presidents Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow of Turkmenistan in the ground-breaking ceremony of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (Tapi) gas pipeline in Mary, Turkmenistan. Ansari hailed the pipeline as a major step towards regional integration. It is to be completed by 2018. Will the Afghan political and security situation allow that to happen?
 
The prevailing conditions in Afghanistan were under focus at the Heart of Asia conference in Islamabad last week. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj lead the Indian delegation. While attention was on the decision taken on the sidelines to resume the India-Pakistan dialogue, what took place between Afghanistan and Pakistan will have a major bearing on Indian security interests and the possibilities of enhancing connectivity with and through Afghanistan.
 
Afghanistan’s government is currently stable but Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah is marginalised. His supporters are growing disillusioned with this extra-constitutional arrangement. There is also no indication that the agreement for constitutional amendments to create the post of an executive PM will actually be implemented. If Abdullah’s patience gives way, the entire edifice will collapse. This will certainly and adversely impact the coherence of the security forces. Meanwhile, former president Hamid Karzai is seeking to undermine the present government.
Afghanistan’s security situation continues to be difficult. When Ghani was in Islamabad, the Kandahar airport was under Taliban attack. A few days later, the Taliban targeted an area close to the Spanish embassy in Kabul. The spread of the Taliban to northern Afghanistan is especially dangerous. Their capture of Kunduz for almost a week exposed the weaknesses of the security system. Afghan security forces are doing their best, but the Taliban challenge will be grave as long as Pakistan does not move against them, which is unlikely to happen.
 
The Islamic State (IS) is visible in Afghanistan. But the extent of its inroads is unclear. Many feel the IS in eastern Afghanistan is only a cover to enable Pakistan to attack Tehreek-e-Taliban elements there. In any event, the Taliban will remain a more potent threat.
Ghani spent enormous political capital wooing the Pakistan army to contain the Taliban and bring them to the negotiating table. He was embittered when Pakistan revealed that Mullah Omar was dead, although it had kept up the fiction that he was alive. The generals also gave a long rope to Mansour, chosen by them to succeed Omar, to continue attacks through the spring and summer to consolidate his position. Ghani poured vitriol on Pakistan, but he is committed to engaging the Taliban and knows that the generals hold the keys for such a process.
 
Last week, Ghani decided to again rely on the generals to deliver the Taliban for negotiations. This did not go down well with all sections of the Afghan officialdom — intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil resigned. Ghani is likely to pursue the course but will the generals deliver? That will require a complete change in their outlook towards Afghanistan. There is no evidence yet of such a transformation and it is most unlikely.
Swaraj did well to raise the issue of the transportation of Indian goods to Afghanistan via the Punjab border at the conference. Ghani, too, asked for such access. However, it is almost certain that the generals will not allow such overland transit, consistent with their desire to reduce Indian interaction with Afghanistan to a minimum. Why have they then agreed to the Tapi pipeline? Because it will, when completed, be a strategic lever to offset the Indian advantage on the waters flowing from India to Pakistan.
 
Indian policymakers have done well to agree to supply attack helicopters to the Afghan forces. This marks a welcome departure from the old diffident policy on defence supplies. It also shows that Ghani is no longer willing to keep Indian assistance out to appease the generals. However, Ghani is inconstant, and his priority is Pakistan. It will, therefore, be appropriate to enhance India’s engagement with all sections of the political class, especially with old friends. But do not expect any timely movement on the Tapi pipeline, for the imponderables are too many.
 
The Indian Express, December 18, 2015
 
 
 
 
Print
Share
  
increase Font size decrease Font size
 
Comments (Total Comments 0) Post Comments Post Comment
Review
 
 
 
 
India's successful launch of putting a record 104 satellites into orbit is a wake-up call for China's commercial space industry which has a lot to learn from New Delhi's frugal space programme, a Chinese government mouthpiece that publishes in English said in one of its rare editorials in which it commended an Indian action
 
read-more
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit Israel later this year – a first by an Indian head of the government that comes 25 years after the two countries established full diplomatic ties. The visit, a long awaited one.
 
read-more
spotlight image For a Dongria child, the schooling process not only displaces him of the community and the land but also displaces him from his own way of seeking truth i.e through nature, writes Rajaraman Sundaresan for South Asia Monitor.
 
read-more
Society for Policy Studies in association with India Habitat Centre invites you to a lecture in the Changing Asia Series by Dr.Pratap Bhanu Mehta, President and Chief Executive, Centre for Policy Research on Asia: Hope for the Future or Prisoner of the Past?    ...
 
read-more
US President Donald Trump’s first few days in office have witnessed a profusion of apocalyptic predictions for the world economy.  His unabashed move to encourage protectionism in the world economy does not augur well for the future of the trading regime
 
read-more
It is high time that Taiwan differentiated its position from Beijing’s claim on South China Sea, writes Namrata Hasija for South Asia Monitor.
 
read-more
At the moment, Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari is able to stop the violence by pushing the Islamists to the vast Sambisa forests of the Borno State At the moment, Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari is able to stop the violence by pushing the Islamists to the vast Sambisa forests of the Borno State
 
read-more
Sometime in later half of last year when Indo-Pak tensions peaked, military operation heads in J&K received unusual calls on their landlines. Sometime in later half of last year when Indo-Pak tensions peaked, military operation heads in J&K received unusual calls on their landlines.
 
read-more
Column-image

India remians the inflexible bête-noir for Pakistan, yet there are few books by Indian authors that have sought to interpret the prodigal neighbour in a holistic, informed and empathetic manner.

 
Column-image

The line that Mortimer Durand drew across a small map in 1893 has bled the Pashtun heart ever since. More than a century later both sides of that line remain restless. But the mystery behind what actually happened on 12 November 1893 has never ...

 
Column-image

What went wrong for the West in Afghanistan? Why couldn't a global coalition led by the world's preeminent military and economic power defeat "a bunch of farmers in plastic sandals on dirt bikes" in a conflict that outlasted b...

 
Column-image

What will be Pakistan's fate? Acts of commission or omission by itself, in/by neighbours, and superpowers far and near have led the nuclear-armed country at a strategic Asian crossroads to emerge as a serious regional and global concern whi...

 
Column-image

Some South African generals, allied with the British forces, sought segregation from the enlisted men, all blacks, after being taken prisoners of war. The surprised German commander told them firmly that they would have to share the same quarte...

 
Subscribe to our newsletter
Archive