South Asia Monitor: India and Pakistan in Afghanistan: Hostile Sports - April 03, 2008
April 3, 2008
India and Pakistan share deep cultural and historic ties with Afghanistan but have for decades had competing strategic agendas there. For India, Afghanistan was an important albeit passive geopolitical constraint on Pakistan, as well as the gateway to Central Asia. Pakistan saw Afghanistan as part of a threatening Indian pincer movement, a source of fuel for Pashtun separatism inside Pakistan, and during the Taliban years, a source of "strategic depth" against the Indian threat. These mutual suspicions make it difficult to get Afghanistan's neighbors to pull together in stabilizing the country. With a new government in Pakistan determined to convince its people that Pakistan is defending its own interests rather than following a U.S. lead, U.S. policy will need to respect the Pakistan government's need for political space. At the same time, a fine balancing act is needed between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan to ensure its smooth transition, peace, and economic growth.