India's Role in Afghanistan

Publication date:
Sumit Ganguly

Policy Research Papers

January 2012

In early October 2011, President Hamid Karzai forged a strategic part­nership with India. This partnership was the first of its kind that the government in Kabul had signed with a foreign country. The agree­ment, among other matters, envisaged that India might train units of the Afghan security forces as the United States (US) seeks to withdraw its forces from the country in 2014. Not surprisingly, the formalisation of an Indo-Afghan strategic relationship has caused some misgiving within Pakistan. For the past several years, as India’s presence within Afghanistan has expanded, Pakistan’s policymakers, most notably its overweening military establishment, have repeatedly expressed their concerns about India’s role and motivations within the country. They have, on more than one occasion, darkly hinted at India’s intent to encir­cle Pakistan through the establishment of a strategic bridgehead in that country.

This paper will examine India’s interests and involvement within Afghanistan. It will also discuss the impact of India’s presence in the country on regional stability, its role within Indo-Pakistani relations and the future of the Indian position in Afghanistan in light of the impend­ing USwithdrawal. Finally, it will briefly discuss the significance of Afghanistan’s future for Europe.