The Role of India and Afghanistan in the Aftermath of Floods in Pakistan

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Context

To date Afghanistan has given $1 million while India has offered up to $20 million for the flood victims in Pakistan. There have been allegations in the past that both were attempting to weaken the geopolitical stature of Pakistan in the region. However, in the post flood scenario India and Afghanistan have a lot to loose if Pakistan destabilizes beyond a certain point and if religious extremists appear to be gaining the upper hand. This analysis examines the possible positions of both countries in the aftermath of the ruinous floods in Pakistan.

Analysis

From the perspective of many in Pakistan, in order to establish its hegemony in the region, India in association with Afghanistan has been trying to weaken and destabilize Pakistan in a pincer style maneuver. Many people in Pakistan claim that the Indian diplomatic presence in Afghanistan particularly its consulates located around the Pak-Afghan border, are meant especially for this purpose. Furthermore, the terrorist groups such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which usually claims responsibility for most of the deadly attacks in Pakistan, are thought to be proxies for RAW and Mossad.

If the above theory is taken to be true, then the havoc brought about by the floodwaters has aided the mission of the above countries tremendously. However, their objective may have been to weaken Pakistan delicately up to a point, and not allow the balance of the power to tilt in favor of the religious extremists. Their emphasis may have been to change the behavior of Pakistan and thus to make it cease its traditional support for jihadi groups operating in Afghanistan and Kashmir. In order to achieve this, Pakistan’s risk reward calculus for aiding these groups had to be reversed. One way to accomplish this was to drive the focus of these groups inwards, as oppose to outwards, and thus shift their utility for Pakistan from being a strategic asset to strategic liability.

Nature appears to have played a cruel joke. Floods have utterly devastated Pakistan’s agriculture, economy and infrastructure. The focus of the Army at least for the time being has shifted to relief and rehabilitation efforts. In PoliTact’s assessment, in the medium to long term, the military would have to choose either to fight the extremists or carry out relief and reconstruction efforts, but it cannot do both.

Anticipating the emerging situation in which the odds are stacked up against the Pakistan army and the political set-up, it is likely the government will attempt a rapprochement with the religious groups. Although the probability of this happening has been lessened by the recent attacks claimed by TTP against the Shiite ethnicity in Lahore and Quetta. Nonetheless, Afghanistan sensing the possibility of this outcome has forewarned the US. The country has vocally claimed that the reason Afghan war is facing a stalemate is because of the duplicitous role of Pakistan and the safe haven which still exist there, a view backed by General Petraeus last week. Meanwhile, Karzai announced the formulation of a ‘peace council’ to start the peace talks with the Taliban who are willing to accept the Afghan constitution, lay down their arms and break ties with terrorist organizations.

Karzai and Afghan strategy appears to be moving in the direction of making peace with Taliban but meanwhile shifting the focus of the world towards extremists in Pakistan. This position is also supportive of India’s stance as it wants Pakistan to take action against Kashmir related jihadist such as Lashkar-e-Toyyiba (LeT). However, in the aftermath of floods both India and Afghanistan may have to change their approach towards Pakistan. In the future, they would have to adopt a highly supportive role towards strengthening Pakistan’s economy and its military, and not doing so may result in producing the scenario these countries may have been trying to avoid.

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