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The implications of Obama's Afghan policy for India

U.S. President Barack Obama’s new policy for Afghanistan may include reassuring elements for India such as increased troop levels, reversing the momentum of the Taliban and going after “safe havens” for terrorists on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, but it has immediately raised a red flag for analysts with the setting of a timeline for a withdrawal, even if phased, starting in July 2011, reports Anirudh Bhattacharyya.

world Updated: Dec 03, 2009 00:35 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

U.S. President Barack Obama’s new policy for Afghanistan may include reassuring elements for India such as increased troop levels, reversing the momentum of the Taliban and going after “safe havens” for terrorists on either side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, but it has immediately raised a red flag for analysts with the setting of a timeline for a withdrawal, even if phased, starting in July 2011.

If such a situation were to arise, Ashley Tellis of the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said, “India will have to confront the possibility of a disturbed Afghanistan for a long time to come.”

And the major players, like Pakistan, “will start hedging their bets and planning for the day after.”

The “day after” scenario also worried Walter Andersen of the South Asia Studies Program at Johns Hopkins University: “In Pakistan, within the military and the ISI, they are thinking, ‘Aha, we have to protect our assets. Part of those assets is the Afghan Taliban. That view is going to be strengthened.”

That will also include leniency towards other assets of real concern to India such as the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.