According to the Pentagon, India trains only Afghan police personnel on a “small scale”. And that too, India trains only Afghan women police officers. The US would like to play down India’s role in Afghanistan as a “very responsible approach… very careful, very mindful” of Pakistani sensitivities, “in order not to exacerbate Pakistan’s concerns.”
However, Pentagon either doesn’t seem to be in the loop or is saying the plain truth – that is, from what Indian military circles are blurting out. They say the Afghans are all over there in the Indian military training schools, including elite ones such as the Army War College in Mhow and that the Indian establishment doesn’t have any gender preference for Afghan women. Motivated American security sources seem to give hype to the Indian version.
A top Pentagon official cannot waffle, especially while talking to a knowledgeable American audience. From the Indian propaganda, the idea seems to be to create ‘strategic ambiguity’ in the Pakistani mind.
Meanwhile, Afghan president Hamid Karzai has also chipped in, stirring the troubled waters. He compares Kabul’s strategic pact with Delhi with the one he is tying up with Washington (which, by the way, visualises the setting up of US military bases.) Now, that is going too far – comparing the Indian role with the superpower’s. What Karzai couldn’t have likely meant to convey was that India and US are in this ‘back-to-back’. Only Karzai would know what prompted him to say that. Maybe, the splendid sight of the Indian Ocean from the Maldivian beaches elevated his spirit. Afghans love the sight of water.
At the end of the day, however, all this is quite unnecessary. Pakistan has a top-notch intelligence system in Kabul. Even in those times of the communist rule when Pakistan was in the dog house and India was a privileged partner in Kabul, Pakistani intelligence got to know everything that went on – and were even willing to share with the dip corps. It can’t be very different today and the pervasive Pakistani intelligence might even know what goes on in Karzai’s mind.
Our guys have simplistic notions of the Hindu Kush, drawn mostly from Rudyard Kipling. The divide of the past 15 years is not as clear-cut as they imagine, in fact, it never had been and it cannot be in a fratricidal strife. Delhi’s best hope today would be that the officers who are trained in Mhow do not end up joining the Taliban ranks. Actually, some Afghan officers trained in our military schools fought for the Taliban in the 1990s.
Posted in Diplomacy.
– November 11, 2011