India will be holding “The Delhi Regional Security Dialogue on Afghanistan” on November 10 will seek to strengthen the common approach among major countries of central asia and its neighbours.
Participants include India, Russia, and the five Central Asian countries (Tajikistan, Turkmenistan , Iran, Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan). Based on similar concerns over export of radical ideology, cross-border terrorrism and humanitarian situation in the landlocked country. The invitation has been extended to China & Pakistan both of which have refused to join the NSA meeting giving scheduling issues as their concern.
Salient Features of the Meet
After the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s takeover, has created a necessity for India to be concerned about security in the region. In the above mentioned context, it is sine qua non India has taken this initiative to organise a conference of regional stakeholders and important powers on the country’s current situation and future outlook.
Key interest for India around this meeting is to attempt to secure for itself a seat at the table to decide the future course of action on Afghanistan.
The meet is aimed at establishing India’s significance and its role in the Afghan theatre. “The regime in Kabul will see the message and get the message when eight NSAs sit around the table of the security dialogue.
Why Afganistan significant to India
Strategic Importance: India’s strategy for Afghanistan is guided by the desire to prevent afghanistani soil from readily providing Pakistan with strategic depth and a safe haven for terror groups.
Soft Power: India has opted to pursue a ‘soft power’ approach to engage with Afghanistan. The contribution of Indian Movies, songs etc has resulted in preferring substantially in the civilian sector rather than in defence and security. Further, access to Indian Medical Tourism to the Afghan population has created a deep rooted space for Indians in the hearts of the local people.
Developmental assistance : India is particularly active in contributing in developmental aid to the afghans. India provided aid in construction, infrastructure, human capital building and mining sectors. Besides, it has also contributed in the health, pharmaceuticals, telecommunications,and information technology and education sectors for cooperation.
Economic Aid: Within the framework of two bilateral agreements, India has contributed around 3 billion USD in aid to Afghanistan. This makes India one of the largest investors in Afghanistan’s quest for economic and social development, and thus attaining stability.
Connectivity Infra-Projects: India has also agreed to build the 600-km-long (Hajigak mines to Herat). The project name is Bamiyan – Herat rail link. Further, India is developing the Iranian port of Chabahar which will be linked to Afghanistan passing through Delaram-Zaranj highway. The connectivity can prove to be a major trade route if things stabilize.
Each of the Central Asian countries having moderate societies have been worried about the export of radical ideology due to the Taliban and this concern has been shared with India particularly for the J&K region. The intelligence agencies and security establishments of all eight countries have been regularly sharing perspectives and inputs on Afghanistan.
However engaging with Taliban like Russia and China is also necessary for India to seek security guarantees from the insurgents in return for continued development assistance or other pledges.