Modi Govt boots out courage, reason

Narendra Modi regime has blundered by refusing to scale up India’s involvement in Afghanistan.

India would contribute troops to Afghanistan as part of US President Donald Trump’s Afghanistan policy
India would contribute troops to Afghanistan as part of US President Donald Trump’s Afghanistan policy

By ruling out the deployment of Indian troops to Afghanistan, Defence Minister has confirmed that our foreign policy remains mired in the bogs of panchsheel and non-alignment

The Narendra Modi regime has blundered by refusing to scale up India’s involvement in Afghanistan. It has confirmed the fear if confirmation was needed, that the same old, rotten policy of the Congress is being pursued in foreign affairs, a few bright spots like surgical strikes notwithstanding.

By ruling out the deployment of Indian troops to Afghanistan on Tuesday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has confirmed that our foreign policy remains mired in the bogs of panchsheel and non-alignment. “There shall not be any boots on the ground from India,” Sitharaman said at a joint press conference with US Defence Secretary James Mattis. “We have built dams, hospitals and roads; that has been India’s contribution and that will continue.”

The fact that even though we have spent $3 billion in the war-torn nation in developmental aid, this has resulted in achieving neither any stability in Afghanistan nor in containing Pakistan’s terror export.

This was in response to a query whether India would contribute troops to Afghanistan as part of US President Donald Trump’s Afghanistan policy. A typical, pusillanimous response. This is evident from the fact that even though we have spent $3 billion in the war-torn nation in developmental aid, road making, power transmission, dams, etc., this has resulted in achieving neither any stability in Afghanistan nor in containing Pakistan’s terror export.

At international conferences to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan, India, which has done so much for that country, is not even invited, while Pakistan, which has been Afghanistan’s bane, is an important player. So much for India’s contribution that Sitharaman crows about.

As P. Stobdan, a foreign policy expert and former diplomat, wrote in a paper for the Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses (April 28, 2015), “India’s $2 billion commitment for Afghanistan [it has grown to $3 billion since then] seems to have been driven more by woolly ideas of ‘gaining goodwill’ rather than being based on a sound strategic assessment. India’s desire to help may have been genuine, but not everyone viewed it that way, nor has it worked that way because politics does not necessarily work on the logic of showing benevolence, magnanimity and a display of riches.”

He rightly pointed out that our money has been wasted: “there are no visible strategic gains for all the resources spent. It seems as if all that money has gone down the drain. And India can at best console itself for having earned some good Punya (merit) in Afghanistan; hopefully, this will help the country in its future destiny.”

He went on to quote a Pakistani analyst who had said: “India trains Afghan forces but does not arm them… does not build houses—so morally weak army join the Taliban insurgents.” What is worse, Stobdan wrote, “what drove India to adopt such a course was respect for Pakistan’s sensitivity in the first place.”

“The US is very keen on India, the rising power that India is, to be part of, if not an alliance, then at least a grouping that can stand up to some extent to China.

So, Pakistan aids and arms jihadists who slaughter Indian security personnel and citizens destabilizes Kashmir, and threatens to nuke us—and we respect its sensitivity! Our confused thinking and actions don’t end here. Our Prime Minister goes to attend his Pakistani counterpart’s private function, we continue full diplomatic and other ties with our western neighbor—and we expect the United States to declare it a terrorist state! This despite the fact that Pakistan was a US ally for decades, while we abused it as a ‘neo-imperial’ hegemon.

In October 2001, when the United States and its allies attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom, Washington was keen on active Indian participation—that is, the involvement of Indian military in its global war on terror. But the Atal Bihari Vajpayee exhibited exemplary timidity, offering cooperation only in terms of intelligence and logistics.

Similarly, the US expects India’s more assertive role in south-east Asia to contain China’s imperial ambitions. Last year, a journalist from Wall Street Journal asked Modi, “The US is very keen on India, the rising power that India is, to be part of, if not an alliance, then at least a grouping that can stand up to some extent to China. Where do you see India taking a position on the global stage?” Modi answered, “There is no reason to change India’s non-alignment policy that is a legacy and has been in place.”

The guy who swears to obliterate the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru calls the latter’s signature principle as his own policy! At any rate, the incumbent policy has adopted the essentials of Nehruvian foreign policy—namely, grand statements and photo-ops signifying nothing.

So, Mattis said in his statement, “We applaud India’s invaluable contributions to Afghanistan and welcome further efforts to promote Afghanistan’s democracy, stability, and security.” Further, he said, “There can be no tolerance of terrorist safe havens. As global leaders, India and the US resolve to work together to eradicate this scourge.”

If thousands of Indian soldiers can serve under the UN flag for peace-keeping, why can’t they get stationed in Afghanistan to safeguard national interest?

Then there was Sitharaman with statements that we have heard a million times: “The same forces that find havens in Pakistan hit New York and Mumbai.” “There is growing convergence in the approaches of both our countries on this issue. We both recognize the importance of holding those who use terrorism as an instrument of state policy to account, and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports terrorism.”

Words that don’t mean anything, claptrap that just conceals the cowardice of the Modi regime. What Mattis and his government want is India’s military involvement in Afghanistan. This is also actually in our national interest, for we have to encircle Pakistan—India in its east, Afghanistan and Iran (with which its relations are not very good) in its west. This is what Sitharaman has flatly denied.
Reason demands India’s military intervention in Afghanistan. If thousands of Indian soldiers can serve under the UN flag for peace-keeping, why can’t they get stationed in Afghanistan to safeguard national interest? It requires courage but the Modi government seems to lack both reason and courage.

Which means that the Mattis visit was a wasted opportunity.


Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Ravi Shanker Kapoor
Latest posts by Ravi Shanker Kapoor (see all)

8 COMMENTS

  1. I disagree with RaviShankar on sending troops to Afganistan but this disagreement is not for the reasons he cited.But when I read two opinions that of Savithri and ChandraRavikumar, how tinpot these opinions are.Yes,India should have greater involvement in Afganistan securitywise but our internal security set up is full of holes with many living here working against the nation.It is wise to remember that LTTE was aided abetted even after ban by 5th column within India.Our involvement in Afganistan will lead to greater torment internally which presently we have no means to counter.Unless India is better governed and well armed/kitted, security force backed by first rate internal security system,we should not even get our toes wetted in Afganistan.Yes,there is a probablility China will take over Afganistan through surrogate Pakis but we are at the moment powerless due to crooked and stupid governance we have had for many many years.

    • Nothing wrong with Indian security forces. They can do wonders when allowed to and directed to – as they have and as they will. It is our politics, and yes, governance, which undermine them. But you are right on one thing, lets look at our own security before we aspire to look after others!
      But we can aspire to help others, can’t we. Even a beggar can share his bun and tea. Which we are doing in Afghanistan, and very well.
      Arming and kitting does not always ensure victory – within or without the nation. Witness the great US of A the most highly [over] armed and [over] kitted nation in the world. For most part its for the use of conducting proxy wars in other nations by ‘super powers’ with other populations as pawns, for larger economic interests. Nothing greatly idealistic or noble about them. Either way, I would still stick to work on the ground as aid. Perhaps a ‘tin pot’ opinion, so be it.

    • If standing by DHARMA is “tin-pot”, so be it. If speaking up to support the way of Dharma, even if it takes a longer time to work, is “fifth columnism”, we can accuse you of the same. Playing footsie with other people’s lives and the history of other countries to serve one’s own self centredness and greed is Adharma. No good will ever come of that. Are not the ravage and rapine of colonialism still exacting so much suffering and sorrow from billions of people around the world?
      Afghanistan is a Land and a People, just like us. Or like Baluchistan, or The Koreas, or Germanies of the Berlin Wall times. Just as we have been ripped apart by colonial aliens and are still bleeding from the wounds , so has been Afghanistan. We too have our own brand of the Taliban among us causing havoc, the Naxalbari terrorism, though this has not affected us as deeply as Islamic extremism has affected Afghanistan. We should not, repeat should not, use people and then discard them like rag-dolls. The sufferings of our colonized past must leave us with the lesson learnt that we shall never do to others the harm that has been done to us. We will find other ways to win over Pakistan, and China too. With intelligence, and unity amongst ourselves, and holding to the pillars of Dharma and Courage, we can achieve anything!
      Please read “Durand’s Curse: A Line across The Pathan Heart” by Rajiv Dogra.

  2. Et tu PGurus!! .
    The mandatory “The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus” just about absolves you.

    Goodwill IS NOT ‘some woolly idea’ but a very tangible, grass root policy, which requires immense intelligence, commitment and patience. We may have spent 3 billions on gaining it, but it is money well spent and worth every rupee. Having the people of another nation on your side is no small achievement, and it is visible in the eyes and smile of every Afghan person who visits India on exchange and training visits and medical care. They love India and Indians. It is not easy for Indians too to build roads, and hospitals in a Muslim country (India is Hindustan, remember?) in an atmosphere of strife and confusion. Its the Afghans own cooperation and support which make it possible.
    The US has spent billions, if not trillions, there, for boots on the ground and carbines in the hand, and what have they got for it? The Al Queda just disappeared into the mountains and the kingpin was in Pakistan all along (which receives US aid!) Flexing muscle like any red neck has not got the US anywhere in the world in terms of real friendship and fellowship. They have just managed to garner ‘I’ll scratch your back, and you scratch mine’ fair weather partners.
    India does not need lessons in courage from a nation whose idea of warfare is mainly carpet bombing. The grit and performance of the Indian army, right from the WWs, is well known the world over. And India too has her own ideas of reason and logic (it is the land of Tarka Shastra after all – the oldest treatise in logic and reasoning) and there is no reason for her to parasite off a Westerner’s logic.
    India will stick to her strategy, and US can stick to its.
    (BTW, nowhere has Modi sworn to wipe out Nehru’s legacy. It is only the media discourse)

    P.S. Posted this as a reply to Chandra Ravikumar’s comment. Posting it now as an independent comment.

  3. No. I do not agree. The Government is doing the right thing, FOR NOW. We are not respecting Pakistan’s sensitivity, but Afghan sensitivities. Afghans are ferociously proud people. And have an obsessive memory for the right and wrong done to them. Why should soldiers from another land come to fight for them when they are full-blooded men quite capable of fighting for themselves? They will have no love for anyone showing them up as weak, which they are not. Afghanisthan today. Was Gaandhaara 5000 years ago. And let us not forget history.

    Considering that the US soldiers have been on Afghan soil in thousands for over a decade, and spending billions of dollars, the Afghan must be looking on the American soldier as his blood brother! But this is not so. There is resentment to say the least if not dislike.

    But Afghans welcome and treasure friendship, and someone who will help re-build their home that is destroyed when they are out at war. They have a fierce sense of gratitude, but as to an equal. As it should be. It is after all their land. So we have to GIVE THE AFGHAN WHAT THE AFGHAN WANTS, and not what the American tells us he wants.

    So we “must encircle Pakistan.” We have already done that, without sending a single soldier out. We have our friends doing that for us. We to the East, Afghanistan and Iran to the west. And Baluchistan within. Just wait till Chinese footfalls increase on the Belt, and we will see the anger boil up. It is easy to and has been a strategy followed in history by many hostile powers to create or manipulate a situation so as to fix the blame on an innocent party. During times of crises, tempers run high, and nerves strung tight. In just a matter of minutes an engineered situation can destroy goodwill and trust built over years. We cannot risk that very high possibility.

    It needs a VERY COURAGEOUS AND NATION LOVING GOVERNMENT to accept that a policy of a previous and deeply disliked government has been good for the country, acknowledge it and pursue it. It needs a VERY INTELLIGENT AND SELF-CONFIDENT GOVERNMENT to continue on its course no matter how many people bad-mouth it. THE MODI GOVERNMENT IS ALL OF THAT.

    • I absolutely agree with Chandra Ravikumar.

      Goodwill IS NOT ‘some woolly idea’ but a very tangible, on the ground policy, which requires immense intelligence, commitment and patience. We may have spent 3 billions on gaining it, but it is money well spent and worth every rupee. Having the people of another nation on your side is no small achievement, and it is visible in the eyes and smile of every Afghan person who visits India on exchange and training visits and medical care. They love India and Indians. It is not easy for Indians too to build roads, and hospitals in a Muslim country (India is Hindustan, remember?) in an atmosphere of strife. Its the Afghans own cooperation and support which make it possible.
      The US has spent billions, if not trillions, there, for boots on the ground and carbines in the hand, and what have they got for it? The Al Queda just disappeared into the mountains and the kingpin was in Pakistan all along (which received their aid!) Flexing muscle like any red neck has not got the US anywhere in the world. In terms of real friendship and fellowship. They have just managed to garner ‘I’ll scratch your back, and you scratch mine’ fair weather partners.
      India does not need lessons in courage from a nation whose idea of warfare is carpet bombing. And India too has her own ideas of reason and logic (it is the land of Tarka Shastra after all – the oldest treatise in logic and reasoning) and there is no reason for her to parasite off a Westerner’s logic.
      India will stick to her strategy, and US can stick to its.
      (BTW, nowhere has Modi sworn to wipe out Nehru’s legacy)

  4. Yes !refusing nt to participate is a strong move by Modiji govt.Why we wii put our soilders casualities there? why as American’s wish we will join in Afganistan? When America giving full fledge economical,moral and defence aid to Pakistan which is against derectly uses us ? when we hv. a large contigent of IPKF under UN it can be deployed there! If America is really interested to be India became an alley he should stop all aids to Pakistan declare Pak. a terrorists country ! Then keeping interest of our country 1st n then we should take any step to send our soldiers any where.

Leave a Reply to Savithri Cancel reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here