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India needs a new Afghan policy: report

world Updated: Jun 09, 2010 10:43 IST

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Noting that India's stakes in Afghanistan are multi-faceted, a think-tank of Indian policy professionals in the US today sought a new policy by it on the war-torn nation.

"India needs an independent, long-term policy towards Afghanistan driven by pro-active initiatives," says the report- India's strategy in Afghanistan: A Farewell to Dilemmas released by The India Research Group, a think-tank of Indian policy professionals.

The report which has been drafted by a task-force of Indian development professionals and academics who have worked extensively in Afghanistan was informed by insights from veteran Indian experts on Afghanistan.

"India's stakes in Afghanistan are multi-faceted and India's policies there will affect the way other countries perceive India", says Raja Karthikeya, one of the lead authors of the report, who is based in Washington.

The report says that India enjoys tremendous soft power in Afghanistan but the challenge lies in converting that soft power into influence.

Also, Pashtuns in Afghanistan feel alienated by India, and the report recommends a series of measures to address this perception.

The report argues that while there are no "good" or "bad" Taliban, the Taliban are not a monolithic political entity and that hence, India should differentiate its approach towards various groups that constitute the Taliban in different regions of Afghanistan.

Broadly, in pushing for an Afghan rather than an externally mediated solution to the conflict, India should back the Karzai government's Reconciliation efforts with the Taliban, it says.

The report suggests India's approach towards various regional powers on Afghanistan.

India should convene a forum for dialogue between multilateral political and military entities - NATO, SCO and SAARC on Afghanistan to reduce duplication of reconstruction effort.

"India's policy in Afghanistan should neither be predicated on Pakistan nor should Afghanistan be on the agenda of any dialogue with Pakistan.

At the same time, India should encourage Afghanistan and Pakistan to settle the Durand Line dispute", said Mohsin Khan, another lead author of the report.