A friend in need
Karzai?s second visit to India in less than a year is in keeping with the growing congruence of interests between the two nations.india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 00:00 IST
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s second visit to New Delhi in less than a year is in keeping with the growing congruence of interests between the two South Asian countries. India has traditionally enjoyed good ties with Afghanistan and now sees it as a strategic partner in the region. Peace and economic development in Afghanistan can have a calming influence across South and Central Asia and India has made huge efforts to promote both goals. It is strongly supportive of Afghanistan in its battle with the remnants of the Taliban and has provided non-lethal military assistance to the Afghan National Army. New Delhi would undoubtedly be willing to do more, provided the Afghan government and its American mentors asked for the assistance.
As it is, India is helping train civil servants, diplomats, police personnel and even broadcasters. India is also one of the leading donors to Afghanistan, having spent over $ 500 million in a number of highly effective development and job-development programmes. India’s thrust is to help rebuild Afghanistan’s infrastructure in sectors of education, healthcare, communications and power. Whatever India and Afghanistan plan and do, they can’t escape geography and the fact that they are separated by Pakistan. This need not necessarily have been a problem, but for Islamabad’s policies in the Nineties. It used the medieval Taliban to control Afghanistan and expand its influence to Central Asia. At the same time it used Afghan territory to train terrorists to attack India.
Today both India and Afghanistan have a common interest in getting Pakistan to abandon these policies and push for economic integration of the South Asian region. Hamid Karzai has one of the toughest jobs in the world and despite a host of problems has managed it with remarkable success. But in the interests of the region, he needs all the help he can. New Delhi needs to meet all the great expectations that the Afghan president and his country have of India.