Only strong, viable and visible Afghan-India relations can help improve India’s relations with Pakistan, according to former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon.
Launching the book “Afghanistan-Pakistan-India: A paradigm shift”, authored by Afghanistan’s Ambassador to India Shaida Abdali, at Observer Research Foundation on Wednesday, Mr.Menon said he did not agree with the view in Kabul that India prefers normalisation of relations with Pakistan over its relations with Afghanistan.
He said he also did not agree with the view in Kabul that India’s sensitivity to Pakistan’s concerns is affecting it playing a much bigger role in Afghanistan. “I am not so sure. It is much more complex,” Menon said.
He said India-Afghan ties are based on much stronger logic that it has survived all twists and turns in the last 60-plus years.
Menon said the “strange spectacle of” U.S., China and Pakistan negotiating with Taliban into taking part in government is unlikely to solve the problem and bring stability to Afghanistan and the region as Taliban has no respect for democratic principles or modern government systems.
“We have seen foreign interventions earlier too. This too cannot end any different,” Menon remarked.
He said until there is a meaningful change in Pakistan’s policy on terror and using it as a state policy, the situation is very difficult to improve.
Saying it is possible to make the optimism expressed in the book real, of cooperation and connectivity between India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Menon said “we have broken down the world into pieces”, reminiscing his younger days when traders from Kabul used to go door to door, selling their products and his own drive through the region.
Menon noted that the author, Shaida Abdali, is himself a participant in the history-in-making, being the executive assistant to former president Hamid Karzai, then deputy National Security Advisor and now Ambassador.
Ambassador Abdali said his book is based on inputs from sources from all the countries, besides his own experiences in the processes. He said if the three countries bring about a paradigm shift in their policies, he is sure they can build themselves a bright future for the region.
He said for India, Afghanistan is a strategic priority as terrorism is a big threat to Afghanistan as well as India.
Saying that the Chabahar deal is a message to Pakistan, Abdali said connectivity through India-Pakistan-Afghanistan can bring about wonders to the region.
Vikram Sood, former head of RA&W and Advisor ORF, said the book is full of hope to solve “the tricky situation” in the region. He said after spending more 60 billion dollars in the last 16 years, the United States will not leave Afghanistan without results.
Former Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Vivek Katju, who was in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban government, said India had never imposed its agenda on Afghanistan and it was only interested in the development of the people and the country.