India’s Geopolitical Coordinates In South Asia

 

Relevancy

  • GS Mains paper II
  • India and South Asia, International relations
  • New U.S. South Asia policy
  • India and Afghanistan problem

 

 

Introduction

  • The US is trying to regain control, and pre-eminence over South Asia which is being pulled in conflicting directions.
  • S. thinks India has the maximum role to play in its regional grand strategy.

 

U.S., India and Afghanistan equation

  • S. is back to participate in the Afghan issue which otherwise could potentially render them insignificant in the years ahead.
  • The U.S is trying to bring Taliban to the negotiating table.
  • It is also limiting Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan.
  • S. and Afghanistan have expressed a desire to enlist India’s support to do so.
  • For US courting India is useful in balancing the increasing Chinese presence in the region, including in Afghanistan.
  • The U.S.’s unsavoury statements about Pakistan are intended to woo India to cooperate closely on Afghanistan.
  • But the U.S. is also courting Pakistan in pursuit of its strategic objectives in the region so India has to be careful on its stand.

 

A few contradictions in U.S. policy

  • A closer look at the U.S. policy towards Southern Asia shows several contradictions.
  • Example the American strategy is of courting India to counter Pakistan in Afghanistan, and engaging India and Pakistan to checkmate China in the region.
  • While at the same time it is viewing China’s role in Afghanistan as that of a potential stabiliser.
  • The U.S. has a puzzling relationship with Pakistan since the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan in 1979 through to 2001.
  • Pakistan is aware of it and also knows how to make use of it.
  • This needs to be properly understood by India when thinking of its own response.
  • Secondly, there is absence of long-term commitments in American foreign policy.
  • S. strategy has been susceptible to domestic, electoral, geopolitical and other determinants in case of South Asia.
  • India should cater for alternative futures as well.
  • Thirdly, U.S. is vocal against terror havens, same as India.
  • India underlines that Pakistan must dismantle the terror infrastructure on its soil.
  • But the U.S. is less likely to punish Rawalpindi for not acting against India-specific groups in Pakistan.
  • S.’ focus is on groups fighting against Afghanistan.
  • Example is no reaction from U.S. when Pakistan decided to drop terror charges against Jamaat-ud Dawah chief Hafiz Saeed.

 

The problems posed by China

  • China has been recently challenging American hegemony in south Asia.
  • It is willing to build peace and mine minerals in Afghanistan, pushing India into backseat.
  • It is doing so by enhancing inter-regional connectivity and economic prosperity of a conflict-ridden, impoverished and under-linked Pakistan and Afghanistan.
  • China intends to emerge stronger in the world stage indicates its new geopolitical resolve.
  • According to the U.S. only India can do to match the Chinese ambitions.
  • Afghanistan stated that it would not join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor if Pakistan refuses to permit connectivity between India and Afghanistan.
  • India appreciates Afghanistan but Pakistan is unlikely to allow overland connectivity between Afghanistan and India through its territory.
  • Also, Afghanistan will not jeopardise its relationship with China by insisting on bringing India on board.
  • The emerging geopolitical landscape in the region requires immediate handling by India.
  • It should consider participating in Afghan peace talks.
  • India should also not send troops to Afghanistan while at the same time enhance Afghan security forces and their reconstruction efforts.

 

Potential of India and way forward

  • India should see through complicated American geopolitical signaling in the Southern Asian region.
  • India needs to carefully design its China policy and not align it with U.S. interests for short term benefits.
  • The U.S. has also kept silence through the Doklam stand-off between India and China.
  • Russia is not only an ally of India but it is increasing its stakes in the region including in Afghanistan, China, and with Pakistan.
  • India should not distract from the strategic realities of the neighbourhood.

 

Conclusion

  • The Indo-Pacific region has high potential and possibilities for India, both geo-economically and geopolitically.
  • India and U.S. along with other regional stakeholders such as Japan, could revive political, diplomatic and military efforts to promote peace and trade in the region.

 

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