Muhammad Bilal Sheikh
Indian engagement in Afghanistan stems from its domestic environment which is submerged with multi-dimensional processes of radicalization leading to violent extremism based on religion, caste and creed. These long process of multi-dimensional radicalization processes have become so protracted that they are now reflecting upon how India engages and formulates its foreign policy especially vis-à-vis regional states. A prime aspect of this regional foreign policy is to disguise the knowledge to the outsider that these processes of radicalization have now become deeply institutionalized. From an outsiders’ perspective India is a secular country where everything is happy go and equality is prevalent. This was a utopia which was waiting to burst open, the truth coming to the forefront is existence of a sinister invisible propaganda which masked India as a secular state.
Since independence, the long historical process of radicalization has become so embedded in Indian society that it has now become the state. This is a dangerous situation especially for regional state as India is bent upon proliferating radicalization into the societies of regional states, create uncertainty as to what are the true Indian intentions and enhance complexities by increasing the threat of naked Indian aggression. Open sources such as social, electronic, print media and newly globalized communication platforms which can be accessed without restrictions and used to disseminate information to a global audience are now revealing the true face of radical India. Unable to control these globalized communication platforms and incapable to influence the shifting agenda from denoting terrorism and extremism with just Islam, Indian thinking is taking new directions. There is realization in India that in the emerging global scenario, the international community will refocus the greater part of its efforts towards countering a Hindu radical India where over 700 million people are highly susceptible to radicalization. Hence to divert attention from the catastrophic fate of these 700 million angry Indians, exacerbating terrorism in Pakistan from Afghanistan is cost effective, practical and accomplishable.
Old habits die hard, India used similar tactics in East Pakistan but this time it next to impossible to diverge global attention from embedded and protracted radicalization as secularism without repercussions. However one thing which sells best in the geopolitical market is radical Islam. This fits in as the next best available alternative and effectively can be used to change the existing regional order and appropriate & use Islam through terrorist groups and violent non-state actors. The turmoil in Afghanistan and a particular anti-Pakistan mindset which has hijacked the Afghan state provides India with a perfect and cost effective opportunity to change the regional order (weaken Pakistan), to influence the international community towards shying away from Hindu radicalism in the garb of secularism and to defame & disrepute especially Pakistan including halting the continuation of its successful policies of unhindered global multi-dimensional engagement, liquidating terrorism and the sacrifices its people have made for strengthening of its society & the international community.
How India wants to change the regional order is by shifting the gravity of conflict from Afghanistan into Pakistan especially in FATA and Balochistan. Zones of conflict deep inside Pakistan will give India the pretext to intervene with military force through its cold start strategy developed by its military, thus will create a domino effect in the international community as well. The two folded Indian nefarious objectives, firstly, ceasing Pakistan’s enhancing global stature due to its role in defeating terror by continuous military operations and involvement in gigantic regional integrative structures such as CPEC and OBOR. Secondly, maintaining perpetual strategic disarray in the US over Afghanistan.
Trump administration’s rising worries over the situation in Afghanistan and considerations of complete withdrawal and handing over Afghanistan to security contractors definitely favours India’s gambit of changing the regional order. How is it possible that despite 16 years of fighting and ousting terrorist groups from power, spending billions of dollars on restructuring Afghan institutional capacity, the situation remains bleak and the capacity of the Afghan security forces and intelligence structures remain thwarted? It is not that Afghan institutional capacity is weak and thwarted but their priorities are not settling the conflict but are to work on the machinations of Indians in changing the regional order by shifting the center of gravity of conflict deep inside Pakistan. Despite the suffering of the Afghan people, its state institutions are bent upon playing the geopolitical game with India.
RAW and Afghanistan’s NDS have elaborative plans and are jointly devoting precious resources to this objective. Despite presenting dossiers of Indian support to terrorist proxies to the international community especially the United States, they still maintain a blind eye on the RAW-NDS nexus targeted towards Pakistan which not just remains intact but day by day is increasing its footprints especially in the border areas with Pakistan. If the Trump administration is just able to persuade and dissuade the Afghan state in transforming its priorities from playing the geopolitical to solving internal issues, it might not need a new strategy or tactic to resolve the Afghan question, the on ground situation is likely to naturally transform itself towards resolution.
Regardless of the ingenuity of the strategy American policymakers come up with, they are bound to fail unless these strategies focus on altering the priority of Afghan security and intelligence forces. Currently, under the tutelage of India, Afghan forces prioritize playing the proxy terroristic war with Pakistan and not to clear their country from terrorists but in fact terrorist safe havens exist just under their noses because their devilish partner India wants them to exist and use them to destabilize Pakistan.
The RAW-NDS nexus which is providing refuge and finances to terrorists is playing with the torment and anguish of the Afghan people, who have witnessed war like a never ending story and still suffering. What is required is a shift not in the regional geopolitical dynamics but a transformation in the priorities of challenging, defeating terrorism and ending these zones of conflict in Afghanistan. President Trump and his advisers do not need a grand strategy to dissuade Afghan establishment nor they require additional troops or private security contractors. All what is required is persuasion and dissuasion through deeds and actions with clear focus on transforming priorities towards defeating terror.