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Featured Indian experts are wondering why New Delhi has been sidelined in Afghanistan

Areesh

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There’s a new Russia-Pakistan axis and Quad to tackle the Afghanistan crisis. India still doesn’t know what to do about them.

Indian experts are struggling to understand how their country has suddenly become sidelined in Afghanistan. Regional processes are nowadays rapidly moving along a trajectory that doesn’t appear to be in alignment with India’s interests. Examples of this include the Pakistani-Russian rapprochement, particularly its manifestation through close political coordination on the Afghan peace process and improved economic-energy connectivity, as well as the US’ recent decision to establish a new quadrilateral framework between itself, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan. Without understanding the reasons behind these developments, India will have difficulty formulating the appropriate policies for defending its interests.

Jyoti Malhotra, ThePrint’s consulting editor, published a column Tuesday titled “India alone on Afghan chessboard as US, Russia pick Pakistan. Here’s what Delhi can do”. She questioned why all of this is happening and proposed two solutions for how India should respond to it. She correctly identified the top two trends – Pakistan-Russia axis and a new Quad –that are most powerfully reshaping the regional situation but didn’t provide an explanation for what’s driving them. That’s to be expected since this is so new for Indian experts. Pertinent developments defied their predictions and thus compel them to modify their analytical models in light of these unforeseen moves.

As an American who’s been living, working, and studying in Moscow for the past eight years, during which time I’ve closely followed the improvement of Pakistani-Russian relations over the last half-decade and am even finishing up my PhD on the topic at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO, run by the Russian Foreign Ministry), I hope that I can provide some clarity about why all of this is happening and thus help answer the questions that Indian experts have. In my personal understanding of everything, Pakistan, Russia, and the US are all practising their own version of what India describes as multi-alignment whereby they are pragmatically diversifying their foreign partners.

Geo-economics over geopolitics
The difference between India’s multi-alignment and theirs is that New Delhi seems to perceive everything through the prism of geopolitics whereas Russia, Pakistan and the US have eventually come to embrace the geo-economic perspective instead. In practical terms, this refers to the new geo-economic grand strategy that Pakistan’s political, diplomatic and military leaders jointly unveiled during the inaugural Islamabad Security Dialogue in March, Russia’s Greater Eurasian Partnership (GEP) vision, and the new quadrilateral framework that the US has established between itself, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan. I’ve published prior analyses about each of them that I’ll now list below so that intrepid readers can review them at their leisure if interested:

To summarise, Pakistan’s and Russia’s grand strategies are complementary, with each respective vision converging in Afghanistan. February’s agreement between Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan to build a trilateral railway that can casually be referred to as PAKAFUZ, after the first letters of each participant’s name, was a game-changer since it created a tangible project through which Pakistani-Russian connectivity interests can finally merge. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s endorsement of Central Asia-South Asia connectivity at last week’s topical conference in Tashkent speaks to his country’s interests in this vision. As for the US, it realised that it too could utilise PAKAFUZ to expand its regional economic influence, ergo the “New Quad”.

The driving force behind these developments is that each of these three countries is beginning to formulate their regional policies through the perspective of geo-economics. The US’ speculative geopolitical plots in Afghanistan failed despite two decades of trying, which explains why it’s belatedly transitioning to geo-economic ones. Otherwise, the US presumably would have preferred to keep trying to advance its geopolitical goals if it felt that there was any credible chance left that they could succeed. Another important point is that rivals Russia and the US tacitly agree that Pakistan is the most important actor with respect to the Afghan peace process and one of the most geostrategically positioned states in the 21st century.

These observations strongly suggest that India’s years-long attempts to portray Pakistan as an irresponsible regional actor and an increasingly isolated country haven’t been successful. Russia and the US rarely agree on anything nowadays, yet they’re in tacit agreement about Pakistan, particularly its regional connectivity and political roles. In fact, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to speculate that their ties with the Taliban were probably facilitated by none other than Pakistan, which might explain why each of them has recently warmed up to it after such channels resulted in last year’s US-Taliban peace deal and Russia hosting the group on several occasions in Moscow for peace talks despite officially designating them as terrorists.

India’s options now
With all of this in mind, Indian experts should respectfully do some soul-searching when it comes to their country’s grand strategy. Its version of multi-alignment hasn’t reaped expected dividends. This is probably because it’s predicated on zero-sum geopolitical goals and not mutually beneficial geo-economic ones. India has also been unquestionably unsuccessful in isolating Pakistan since that neighbouring country now serves as the convergence point of American, Chinese, and Russian interests, which wasn’t the case a year ago. These Great Powers all have a stake in Pakistan’s stability for practical economic reasons, which will make it more challenging for India to pressure it in the future, potentially even through the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Another point of pertinence is that India remains the only regional actor of relevance without official ties to the Taliban. New Delhi has politically principled reasons for this, but such a stance is arguably becoming counterproductive in the grand strategic sense when everyone else is already talking openly to the group. Since America, China, and Russia all talk to the Taliban nowadays, it appears to be a fait accompli that the rest of the world with few exceptions such as India will cautiously welcome them into the international community following what appears to be their inevitable participation in the Afghan government upon either a peace deal or a full military victory. In other words, India is politically isolating itself by not talking to the group, which might be why it’s finally reportedly considering doing so, according to informed sources that spoke to ThePrint.

Malhotra’s proposals in the face of this unprecedented challenge to India’s regional interests are for New Delhi to prioritise security and political engagement with Kabul. I respectfully argue that these suggestions stand little chance of success without India first modifying its policies. The security aspect will be difficult to pull off in any meaningful way if Iran’s incoming principalist (“conservative”) government balks at approving the Indian Air Force’s transit through its airspace, which is possible since Tehran too is pragmatically engaging with the Taliban after recently hosting its representatives and might not want to facilitate India’s implied ‘proxy war’ against the group through its enhanced security cooperation with Kabul.

The second part of her proposed plan is for India to assist Afghanistan by assembling a broad-based leadership coalition, but these efforts will be meaningless without including the Taliban, which in turn requires New Delhi to enter into dialogue with it. Unless India talks to the group like ThePrint reported that it might finally do, then any such political moves will be ignored by the other stakeholders: America, China, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia. Russia and the US might even consider India’s efforts to be obstructive since they both agree on the need to include the Taliban in any talks about Afghanistan’s political future, which would be a counterproductive consequence for New Delhi since it officially aims to balance between these two Great Powers, not provoke their ire.

I’ve come to the conclusion that India has been sidelined in Afghanistan due to its own policies that have failed to evolve in the face of rapidly changing regional circumstances, particularly America’s and Russia’s embrace of Pakistan. India’s multi-alignment was theoretically sound in principle but mistakenly focused on geopolitics instead of geo-economics whereas Pakistan, Russia, and the US are now prioritising the latter concept. This explains their surprisingly converging interests nowadays. For India to retain its relevance with respect to Afghanistan, it should recalibrate its multi-alignment policy by replacing geopolitics with geo-economics and consider talking to the Taliban right away.

 

Dalit

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Explains recent Indian overtures with the Taliban.

India prior to 2021: "We will never negotiate nor recognize the Taliban."
India during 2021: "The Taliban have changed. We are holding secret meetings."

India the champion of BS.
 
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Meliodas

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India is heavily concerned about pak Russia relations in terms of central Asia, also India has made a mistake betting everything on Kabulis who will take them down with them.
 

waz

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They simply have no connection to the region. Their influence is in South Asia that's it.
Pakistan shares land borders with Afghanistan, cultural and religious ties. Aside Afghans no one else knows the region better.
 
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Shah_Deu

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They simply have no connection to the region. There influence is in South Asia that's it.
Pakistan shares land borders with Afghanistan, cultural and religious ties. Aside Afghans no one else knows the region better.
It is a delight these days watching the dejected faces of these morons discussing 24/7 how to deal with the evolving situation.

After coldshouldering from the US and Russia both regarding giving them any role in Afghanistan, most of their commentators are now banking on Iran somehow giving them Chabahar port to become relevant in the game again.

The question they should ask themselves, what have they to offer in all the settlement in the first place? A while ago they would have ranted about the 3-billion dollars they invested in the libraries (as per Trump), but with a much larger economically powerful China in the picture, this rant of these baniyas is also of no relevance now.

Latest, I saw Gaurav Arya sharing his valuable thoughts on the situation and expressed satisfaction (or hope) that in the long term, Pakistan is going to lose whatever the outcome of the events is. Considering if his wishes were horses and had he got such powerful analytical skills and high intelligence quotient, in his prime years, he wouldnt have swapped his place in the army to a seat in Arnab Goswami's shows.
 
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Meliodas

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Well we can see their isolate Pakistan diplomacy can we not ? 🥱
I said historically, and apart from the Afghanistan situation you can compare the diplomatic power of both countries and see for yourself. They have been very successful in sidelining pakistan on the international front and creating a bad image since 9/11 and espaiclly after the Mumbai attacks, also see how traditional relationships of Pakistan have worsened in recent years and allies lost or compromised, it's Allah's gift that Pakistan got some of its importance back through Afghanistan and I pray that it doesn't lose it due to delusions and haste. Afghan game has just started and it has so many turns and twists to go.
 

Stealth

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I said historically, and apart from the Afghanistan situation you can compare the diplomatic power of both countries and see for yourself. They have been very successful in sidelining pakistan on the international front and creating a bad image since 9/11 and espaiclly after the Mumbai attacks, also see how traditional relationships of Pakistan have worsened in recent years and allies lost or compromised, it's Allah's gift that Pakistan got some of its importance back through Afghanistan and I pray that it doesn't lose it due to delusions and haste. Afghan game has just started and it has so many turns and twists to go.
101% true… let me tell you how Pakistan and its intelligence agency measurably failed…

1. RAW have killed 70,000+ Pakistanis without a war
2. They have sucessfully opened another front from the west.
3. They have sucessfully managed groups in A-Tan including Govts and NDS.
They have sucessfully created anti-Pakism in 2 generations through books, mags, news and different type of literature.
4. They have sucessfully crippled Pakistan’s economy through terrorism.
5. Whenever they want, they sucessfully kill anyone in Pakistan including Chinese.
6. They sucessfully diverted entire Pakistan aggressive posture and doctrine to defense doctrine.
7. They sucessfully created anti Pak regimes and players around Pakistan.
8. They sucessfully developed trrrorism training hubs in A-Tan.

WTF ISI and Pak doing in past 20 years????

now after 2 decades, they are sidelined because of geopolitical change but they sucessfully achieved many things esp literally bankcrupt Pak…financially to economically… they have sucessfully bought politicianslike Nawaz Sharif, Altaf Hussain, Achakzai etc

so anyone explain how the **** we won against RAW and India????

Some sayingoh they’re loosing investments in A-Tan. Yes they’re loosing but they already done enough damage toPakistan from A-Z front..
 

hussain0216

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101% true… let me tell you how Pakistan and its intelligence agency measurably failed…

1. RAW have killed 70,000+ Pakistanis without a war
2. They have sucessfully opened another front from the west.
3. They have sucessfully managed groups in A-Tan including Govts and NDS.
They have sucessfully created anti-Pakism in 2 generations through books, mags, news and different type of literature.
4. They have sucessfully crippled Pakistan’s economy through terrorism.
5. Whenever they want, they sucessfully kill anyone in Pakistan including Chinese.
6. They sucessfully diverted entire Pakistan aggressive posture and doctrine to defense doctrine.
7. They sucessfully created anti Pak regimes and players around Pakistan.
8. They sucessfully developed trrrorism training hubs in A-Tan.

WTF ISI and Pak doing in past 20 years????

now after 2 decades, they are sidelined because of geopolitical change but they sucessfully achieved many things esp literally bankcrupt Pak…financially to economically… they have sucessfully bought politicianslike Nawaz Sharif, Altaf Hussain, Achakzai etc

so anyone explain how the **** we won against RAW and India????

Some sayingoh they’re loosing investments in A-Tan. Yes they’re loosing but they already done enough damage toPakistan from A-Z front..
Because most of those things have nothing to do with India

It's like saying India made Afghanistan anti-Pakistan in 1947, it's false the Afghan were already our enemy

The problem we have is simple is that the region has a myriad of historical fault lines, the afghans don't need India to hate us

The very fact that we exist and as they see it have taken half their land is what is creating the hatred

The Afghan nationalists have attempted to attack us for 70 years (again nothing to do with India)


Pakistan can utilize the ISI to hit our enemies back, India has indeed been utterly cornered in Afghanistan
And Pakistan has indeed outdone multiple enemies in Afghanistan but the fight isn't over

getting China involved on the LAC was also a great addition to the battle against our enemies

our border regions are messey and for two long we drank the Ummah coolaid when it concerned the afghans and we are suffering for it

We will continue to suffer for the afghans being a lanati people but we will have to bit back harder
 

Jobless Jack

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101% true… let me tell you how Pakistan and its intelligence agency measurably failed…

1. RAW have killed 70,000+ Pakistanis without a war
2. They have sucessfully opened another front from the west.
3. They have sucessfully managed groups in A-Tan including Govts and NDS.
They have sucessfully created anti-Pakism in 2 generations through books, mags, news and different type of literature.
4. They have sucessfully crippled Pakistan’s economy through terrorism.
5. Whenever they want, they sucessfully kill anyone in Pakistan including Chinese.
6. They sucessfully diverted entire Pakistan aggressive posture and doctrine to defense doctrine.
7. They sucessfully created anti Pak regimes and players around Pakistan.
8. They sucessfully developed trrrorism training hubs in A-Tan.

WTF ISI and Pak doing in past 20 years????

now after 2 decades, they are sidelined because of geopolitical change but they sucessfully achieved many things esp literally bankcrupt Pak…financially to economically… they have sucessfully bought politicianslike Nawaz Sharif, Altaf Hussain, Achakzai etc

so anyone explain how the **** we won against RAW and India????

Some sayingoh they’re loosing investments in A-Tan. Yes they’re loosing but they already done enough damage toPakistan from A-Z front..
Agreed. But what you are mentioning is the past. The fruits they enjoy today are because of past actions. They have achieved very little since 2014.

But the tide has turned against them. Think 20 years from now.

Unless india sends soldiers to afghanistan. The afghan game is lost for them.

If india looses afghanistan all their gains in the past 20 years will be for nothing. Its back to square one for india if they lose Afghanistan
 
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Shah_Deu

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101% true… let me tell you how Pakistan and its intelligence agency measurably failed…

1. RAW have killed 70,000+ Pakistanis without a war
2. They have sucessfully opened another front from the west.
3. They have sucessfully managed groups in A-Tan including Govts and NDS.
They have sucessfully created anti-Pakism in 2 generations through books, mags, news and different type of literature.
4. They have sucessfully crippled Pakistan’s economy through terrorism.
5. Whenever they want, they sucessfully kill anyone in Pakistan including Chinese.
6. They sucessfully diverted entire Pakistan aggressive posture and doctrine to defense doctrine.
7. They sucessfully created anti Pak regimes and players around Pakistan.
8. They sucessfully developed trrrorism training hubs in A-Tan.

WTF ISI and Pak doing in past 20 years????

now after 2 decades, they are sidelined because of geopolitical change but they sucessfully achieved many things esp literally bankcrupt Pak…financially to economically… they have sucessfully bought politicianslike Nawaz Sharif, Altaf Hussain, Achakzai etc

so anyone explain how the **** we won against RAW and India????

Some sayingoh they’re loosing investments in A-Tan. Yes they’re loosing but they already done enough damage toPakistan from A-Z front..
So while I agree to your thesis of RAW damaging Pakistan using our western border, the whole story was much more complex. Whatever damage has been caused to us, has just partly been inflicted by RAW, for there are a hell lot of other factors involved in it.

India and Indian RAW were just piggybacking the superpower and used american presence to further their own interests. It is none less than a miracle how we as a nation withstood the onsalught not once but twice, (first one them supporting the northern alliance).

Just to blame RAW for all our shortcomings would be a little too much credit to them to what they deserve. We shouldnt forget how our corrupt governments especially during 2008-2018 period ate us inside out. This was truly a lost decade.

Additionally, after the 9/11, when the whole world was standing with a narrative, right or wrong, we required political stability at the very least on our side, which was denied to us by the corrupt politicians.

Our economy was systematically let to be sunk, while the outsiders didnt disturb us for even they were flabbergasted to how we were damaging ourselves to what even they couldn't do to us!

It was just a series of unfortunate events and unfavorable strategic climate which we were let to face with our corrupt elite at the helm of affairs. As I said, its nothing short of a miracle, how we came out of that, for even the planners might have found the trap laid for us to be too good to be true!
 

Deltadart

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They simply have no connection to the region. There influence is in South Asia that's it.
Pakistan shares land borders with Afghanistan, cultural and religious ties. Aside Afghans no one else knows the region better.
Agreed, they are overly stimulating themselves over Afghanistan, because of their inflated ego, and false bravado. They should not be allowed to play any role until they verifiably renounce their support to anti Pakistan terrorists, and until they cease their hegemonic policies and fantasies of grandeur.
They can save their shining India crap for the west. Those of us who are from south Asia know very well the dynamics of how the societies function, and bovine lovers will never become a superpower, the Sooner they realize that fact, the better it would be for them and the region. Otherwise, there will be nothing but chaos in the region.
 

newb3e

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because only in Planet of the Apes Baboons manage to build a colony in real life Baboons dont become rulers!

No racist :P
 

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