Major global powers like Russia and China and regional powers like Iran are now ready to embrace the Taliban — in their own interest, but ostensibly for peace in Afghanistan.

The next round of Moscow talks on Afghanistan is scheduled for 10 April. Besides hosts Russia, other participants include India, China, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. The conference seems to mark the beginnings of a new version of the Great Game among Asian powers with only one semi-European country, Russia. The US, having turned down the invitation to participate, presumably has its own rules of the game. It could be that the US does not want to be seen playing second fiddle in a Russian symphony at this stage of their bilateral relations. Each of the participant nations will naturally push their own agendas while pretending to be doing so for the benefit of the aggrieved nation, Afghanistan. Chances of a successful outcome of the Moscow meeting therefore remain dim. The only certainty is that major global powers like Russia and China and regional powers like Iran are now ready to embrace the Taliban — in their own interest, but ostensibly for peace in Afghanistan.

First, a quick review of the internal security and political situation is necessary. The Afghans say that the security situation is not as bad as outside experts suggest it is; but then, it is not as good as the Afghans would have us believe. Measured by any yardstick, the Taliban controls more territory today than they did last year. The fall of Sangin district in Helmand province to the Taliban on 23 March perhaps epitomises the security problem in the country. Strategically located between the Helmand River and Kandahar province, the district is a centre of the lucrative opium trade. Control of Sangin is thus very important for controlling the opium trade, and provides the Taliban a direct link between the provinces of Helmand and Kandahar. The stakes are thus high and corruption is high alongside. No wonder that battles have been fierce and the largest number of British and American troops died in Sangin than in any other district in Afghanistan. Since 2013, when the control of the district was transferred to Afghan forces, hundreds of Afghans too have died battling the Taliban. It is possible that like in many other cases in the past, Sangin will also change hands, but for the moment the Taliban occupy the district.

This conflict became progressively more intense throughout 2016 and is likely to worsen in 2017. This enabled the Taliban to increase their footprint by about 15% all over the country as compared to 2015. The Afghan government of Ashraf Ghani controls about 60% of the territory. There will also be no reduction in Pakistani support to the Taliban. Unless the Afghan National Security Force acquires urgently needed weaponry and equipment, the ANSF will remain under considerable strain.

Individual valour does not make up for institutional weakness. A loss in morale would adversely affect ability to withstand increasingly intensified and sophisticated attacks by the Taliban.

The US remained extremely deferential to Pakistani hypersensitivity about Afghan rearmament. The Afghans thus never had the equipment and adequate training to be able to function as an army that was both an effective counterinsurgency force and able to engage against conventional transborder threats. Ironically, foreign observers of the security scene in Afghanistan are now dismissive of the Afghan army’s capabilities as if the present state where everything possible is dysfunctional, is entirely the fault of the Afghans themselves. Consequently, despite the estimated 780 billion dollars spent mostly by the US all these 15 years, the Afghan army remains under equipped and under trained. A smarter, well-equipped, well-trained army comprising locals fighting on and for their own land would have been far greater value for money than well-equipped highly trained foreign troops.

Ultimately, American forces seen as saviours of 2001 became just another occupation force in the eyes of the Afghan. This is what the Taliban has capitalised. The Taliban has been able to attract some non-Pushtun to its ranks which increases their ability to withstand pressure or become more active in other parts of the country. Places like Kunduz, Sar-e-pul, Baghlan and Farah could be under Taliban pressure in the next few months.

Today, no one really wants to discuss the two major problems afflicting Afghanistan; one, the opium trade that financially sustains the Taliban and the impoverished Afghan farmer; and two, the support Pakistan has rendered Taliban and continues to do so.

Much is being made out of the presence of so-called Islamic State in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, bordering Pakistan. Informed opinion from Afghanistan asserts that there is no such entity like ISIS-K (Daesh) in the country. Some elements merely fly the ISIS flag. These are really those belonging to the Haqqani Network, closely associated with the ISI. The ISIS has brand equity amongst western nations, and now with Russia. Additionally, it provides Pakistan with deniability and innocence in its operations into Afghanistan. This might make the Haqqani faction look good, even humane, in the bargain. If the narrative about the Taliban among some powers can change to suit the occasion, so can that for the Haqqani Network. The ISIS is becoming a convenient diversion for various reasons from the main threat to Afghanistan — the Taliban.

The cynosure of the globe in Afghanistan

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the US, as the sole super power, also became the global cynosure of other people hoping for American support in their struggles against oppressive regimes. The world hoped for a generous magnanimous nation trying to uplift the less advantaged. Instead, what they saw was an unshackled America pursuing only its interests and using other nations for promoting its interests. Besides, over the years, excessive use of military force has only exposed its limitations. In the 1990, as the Taliban threatened Afghanistan, the US was willing to do business with Taliban hoping this would help American petroleum companies like UNOCAL with the Turkmenistan gas connection. Less than a decade later, in a role reversal, the US was hunting the Taliban. Today, the discourse is that the US should do deals with them. In the process, the US does not get a high score on the reliability index. This is an unfortunate commentary on a superpower.

Meanwhile, the US is yet to decide what would be its next course of action in Afghanistan. But the White House has other items on its to-do list. Afghanistan is not one of them. One section seeks a greater military engagement in Afghanistan. The American commander in Afghanistan, General Nicholson, has sought an increase of US force by about a few thousand. If this increase is only to guard US embassies and interests in Afghanistan, this is bad optics. This implies that the US no longer feels safe in a country that it set out to rescue or fears its inhabitants. If this additional force is meant to reverse the tide, then it is hopelessly inadequate. America First is a fine slogan at home but this does not work in another country where troops are out to defend that country.

Afghanistan, Patrol, Children, Great Game
Source: Defence Images/CC BY-NC 2.0

Years ago, writing for The Hindustan Times, I had said: "In Kashmir, Pak-sponsored terrorists have never numbered more than 3,000 to 3,500 in an operating season, yet the Indian force deployed along with the paramilitary has been anywhere up to 100,000. Assuming that there are 10,000 Taliban loose in Afghanistan, a force of 250,000 would be needed to engage the Taliban. What is needed is boots on the ground, not aerial attacks that create more enemies than they destroy. The present NATO/US force of 40,000 is not only inadequate, it is also counterproductive to deploy a force thinly."

What is needed is boots on the ground, not aerial attacks that create more enemies than they destroy.

Daniel Davis, a former lieutenant-colonel in the US army, who served in Afghanistan at the height of 2010, made a similar observation. He confirmed that even with more than one hundred thousand US troops on the ground, there were still massive swaths of the country that were no-go territory for friendly troops, and the Taliban and other insurgents ran wild. [i] He added that so long as Pakistan refused to stop the Taliban from using its territory as a safe haven and the government in Kabul remained as corrupt as it has been, it wouldn’t matter if President Trump sent two hundred thousand troops to Afghanistan. The US, frozen by its dependency on Pakistan, could never bring itself to push that country far enough on this. The issue is that given the usual ratio between terrorists and counter terrorist forces, US would need upwards of 500,000 troops in Afghanistan to control the 50,000 Taliban. There just are not that many troops available nor the funds.

Sameer Lalwani in his essay, Ambling Blindly Back into the Mountains: 5 Hard Questions for the Next Phase in Afghanistan, [ii] summed up the various policy recommendations available for handling Pakistan. He said: "[T]he greatest obstacle to any turnaround in Afghanistan is that there is the absence of a realistic strategy to deal with Pakistan" and that many assessments identified Pakistan as the chief culprit because of the material support and safe havens it gives to Afghan Taliban. If there is no strategy to change Pakistan's behaviour – coercion, inducement or brute force — the situation in Afghanistan will not improve substantially. This is the crux.

The original sin continues. Wars fought from the comfort of airconditioned consoles thousands of miles away or bombardment seen as blips on LED screens do not record the sound of pain or the anguish of death that a cluster bomb dropped from the air brings. Drones kill terrorists, mostly; but they do not defeat terrorism. Drones can kill but they cannot win counterterror wars because they cannot control territory. There can be only one explanation why such a small troop increase is now being sought. Armed drones, the latest gift to weaponry and tactics from the Afghan war, will be used increasingly for close air support or for targeted killings.

Drones can kill but they cannot win counterterror wars because they cannot control territory.

Many in the US feel that America cannot be seen to be abandoning Afghanistan and there was need for a deeper American commitment. This was also supported by the former NSA, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and possibly by his successor, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster. There is a demand from the US CentCom Commander General Votel and Republican Senators McCain and Graham for putting more troops on the ground with "greater authorities". There is support for this line of thought in other think tanks in the US. Yet, by far the growing feeling is that America has lost this war and the one in Iraq-Syria. The question is how to retrieve the situation and remain in control.

In a recent commentary, Barnett Rubin points out that the Taliban were a product of the decades-long war that led to the collapse of the state of Afghanistan as the two superpowers battled for supremacy. Rubin added that Al Qaeda was an Arab product that grew in the ungoverned spaces as the mujahedeen fought the Soviet Union and then the Taliban. Finally, the Islamic State is a result of the US invasion of Iraq and was now showing signs of its presence in Afghanistan. [iii]

With Pakistan now strengthened after the CPEC agreement with China and the recent opening of avenues with Russia, it is likely to be even more intransigent than in the past. It would be necessary for a combined multination diplomatic and military initiative if a solution has to be attained. The US cannot run solo on this anymore. The US would not be able to leave, if at all, without appearing to have put in place an agreement that seems to secure the future of Afghanistan. Views and interests of other neighbouring nations — Russia, China, Iran Pakistan and India — would need to be taken on board.

From Russia with ambition

At a time when the entire region is in a flux, the Taliban is the flavour of the season. The Americans, Russians, Chinese and Iranians are currently wooing this retrograde grouping of Islamists as Pakistan sits secure and smug that its policies of investing in the Taliban are seemingly beginning to give dividends. The only holdouts to this fervour for the Taliban are the Afghans themselves and the Indians. Quite naturally, the suitors have to construct a convenient story line as each of the players have their own interests in mind; Afghanistan is incidental to these interests.

The Russians see an opportunity in the weakening of the US stature in the Middle East. Events in Iraq first and then in Syria have left the Russians in an advantageous position. Moscow probably sees that its navy has an assured presence in the Mediterranean through the Syrian coastline, and if they have access to Iran via Afghanistan, then they have access to the Persian Gulf. This may not be an adequate counter to the CentCom, but will be to the Chinese presence in Gwadar and Indian interests in Chahbahar. The Russians thus see for themselves a new opportunity in the region provided they can handle two negative but related factors. One is that of the rising Islamist threat to themselves through Afghanistan and Central Asia. The second, related to this, is the never-ending problem of narcotics, which is now centrepiece to any solution in Afghanistan. These worries are genuine.

The renewed Russian interest is not so much about Afghanistan as about being strategically relevant in the entire region in opposition to US interests. The clash between Russia and the US along with its European allies has been building up since Georgia in 2008, onto Crimea in 2014 and finally, the Ukraine. The current allegations that Russia had interfered in the last US presidential elections are getting enlarged in scope, thereby exacerbating bilateral relations.

Russia has moved a considerable distance away from its last stance in the 1990s when along with India, Iran, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan a joint effort was made to keep the Taliban at bay. This was successful until the assassination of Ahmed Shah Massoud on September 9 2001. The suicide bombers had travelled via Pakistan with visas from a Pakistan Embassy. The implications of this otherwise major event were lost in the catastrophe of 9/11.

The Russians have met Taliban representatives several times in the past two years. It is possible, the Russians seek to get the Taliban to destabilise the Ghani Government seen by the Russians to be a US-backed regime. This is payback time for the Afghan jihad in the 1980s. Ironically, they would be using the Taliban’s hatred for the Americans for this. Besides, neither the Russians, Chinese nor Iranians have taken too kindly to the US decision to maintain its bases in Afghanistan for power projection into Central Asia. President Putin’s special envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, has said Russia "will not tolerate this." [iv]

Kabulov has also said that the ISIS is a bigger threat to the region than the Taliban. The story line is that in the interest of peace in Afghanistan, the Taliban be considered as a political and social movement. [v]  The Russians believe that the ISIS cannot be eliminated without cooperation from Pakistan. This cooperation means being on the same page about the Taliban. Many Russians along with Iranians and Chinese see the ISIS as a Trojan horse to destabilise their countries; on the other hand, the Americans see the Russians, Chinese and Iranians highlighting ISIS presence in the region to extend their control in areas vital to the US. It is interesting that none of the powers is willing to even talk about the role that the Pakistan-backed Haqqani Network, of whom not much seems to have appeared in the news, will be playing in this game that is unfolding.

The Russians do have genuine worries though. An estimated 50,000 Russians die every year because of heroin addiction. This is a huge number in any country but even more in a country with a declining population. Fifteen years ago, the Muslim population in Russia was about 10%; today it is more than 13%. Moscow is now home to about 1.5 to two million Muslims, making it the second largest Muslim city in Europe. The Muslims are mostly Sunni but many have been without the traditional Muslim moorings. This is beginning to change with increasing radicalisation.

Russia does have a serious problem if one considers that an estimated 5,000 to 7,000 ISIS cadres speak Russian of which half are Russian citizens and the rest from Central Asia. This makes Russian the second most popular language in the ISIS. The Russian contingent have their own command and control structure. In Raqqa, there was a Russian enclave with their own grocery store and Russian language schools. Most of the ISIS cadres from Central Asia were recruited and radicalised in Russia. The Russian rulers did what the Arab rulers did to their jihadists — seemingly solved their problems by pushing them out to other pastures. Inevitably, the fear now is that these jihadis will return to Russia. By 2015, these battle-hardened cadres were finding their way home and Putin’s chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, remarked that many of the Russians who had fought for the Islamic State had returned home and they presented a direct threat. Later, speaking at the UNGA in September 2016, President Putin asserted that these fighters, having tasted blood in Syria, would return to pose a threat.

The other Russian apprehension seems to be that these returnees could make a base in northern Afghanistan from where they would move into Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and they could be using the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, already present in Afghanistan, for this. Simultaneously, the Russians also see Taliban inroads into the Uzbek and Tajik populations in northern Afghanistan, which could put the leadership of Uzbek leaders like General Dostum under some strain along with that of the Tajik leaders.

China is worried about an Islamist spill over from the ISIS or even the Taliban, into Xinjiang province and Iran is decidedly uncomfortable with a strong Sunni presence on its borders. The Iranians are also apprehensive now of the recently formed Saudi-sponsored Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism — a collection of Sunni nations. Policies in and about Afghanistan are more likely to remain a reflection of a larger US-Russia antagonism and a high level of mutual suspicion accompanied by rising ambitions and fears of China and Iran.

Chinese checkers

As they did in Syria, the Chinese seek to move into empty spaces that might be vacated by an America that is looking for exits and solutions that are not seen to be failures. Yet the Chinese have until recently refrained from getting militarily involved and have let the Russians lift the heavy load for them in Syria. They themselves give the image of a responsible country with deep pockets, but most do not quite see the tight fists inside them. Their investments in Afghanistan designed for extracting mineral resources are less than India’s. China’s strategic interest in Afghanistan and Central Asia revolves around the One Belt One Road project, of which the CPEC is a subsidiary project in the South Asian context. China sees an opportunity in Iran, which would enable it to have access to the Gulf through Afghanistan and to the Caspian Sea through Iran.

Afghanistan, Razor Wire, Great Game
Source: Jacksoncam/CC BY 2.0

China's security interests hover around keeping Xinjiang free of Islamist influences i.e., Taliban and ISIS varieties. Banning beards of a certain length and veils may be a part of this attempt to provide conformity, but also indicates a growing fear among China’s rulers about their restive province. This may not be enough and hence the Chinese have been using the Pakistani connection for contacts with the Taliban. They will go along with the Pakistani distinctions between 'good Taliban' and 'bad Taliban'. It suits China to have direct contacts with the Taliban, which gives both the Taliban and Pakistan greater legitimacy and the Chinese hope to secure themselves somewhat in Xinjiang. India may have provided some limited military assistance lately (M-25 attack helicopters) but the Chinese too have conducted joint patrols with Afghan forces to indicate their availability in the face of US drawdown.

Iranian interests

The Iranians have worried about events in Afghanistan from the time the Afghan jihad started in the 1980s. The presence of Soviet troops in their neighbourhood and a jihad bankrolled by the Saudis along with archenemy America’s active assistance was a cause of deep concern. Later in the 1990s, they cooperated with India and Russia to try and stem the Taliban tide but many arrangements fell off the table after September 2001. The growing uncertainties in Iran's neighbourhood and the fears about ISIS have also pushed the Iranians to seek a solution of the problems in Afghanistan that involve the Taliban. Iran has sheltered Taliban elements in the past and Gulbuddin Hikmetyar was a long term resident in Iran. Obviously, Iran's leaders remind themselves that they need a peaceful and secure border with Afghanistan at all times and for that would need to come to terms with the Taliban.

A triangular relationship between Iran, Russia and China had been evolving for some time. Afghanistan is one of the reasons as part of a larger political, economic and military equation in Eurasia. All three would be watching the new president in US to see if he successfully distances his country from China and Iran and moves closer to Russia. China and Iran signed a military cooperation agreement in November 2016, which envisages bilateral military training and closer cooperation on regional issues; Syria and terrorism being on the top of the Iranian list. Around the same time, the Russians also announced that the two countries were negotiating an arms deal worth US $ 10 billion to supply Iran with T-90 tanks, artillery systems, aircraft and helicopters. Soon after sanctions against Iran were lifted, President Xi Jinping visited Iran in January 2016 and the two countries agreed to increase trade to USD 600 billion. The joint agreement referred to strategic relations between the two countries. Earlier this year, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Moscow in a well-publicised visit (not in India though). The signal was to the US — that the relationship was alive and strong. This kind of tripartite closeness makes agreements on issues like dealing with the Taliban and Afghanistan a lot easier for the three governments.

Pakistan geopolitical problem

"Kabul must burn," so said Gen. Akhtar Rehman of the Pakistan Army and the DG ISI during the Afghan jihad. This was in the 1980s as the US, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were ramping pressure on the Soviets and the Afghans. This policy has not changed. Only the directors of the policy and actors on the ground may have got new names. Kabul still burns, thanks to Pakistan's inimical policy towards Afghanistan. Pakistan may assume it has successfully turned the tide in the short term by having major powers willing to do a deal with the Taliban. One is not sure if the cure proposed is worse than the disease. Terrorism never pays back folly with kindness. Concessions under duress only lead to more terror.

A tripartite Russia, China and Pakistan engagement has also begun to work. The three had met in Moscow to discuss Afghanistan with a flexible approach to lift sanctions against select Taliban leaders. This must have been at Pakistani prompting about 'good Taliban' and 'bad Taliban'. [vi] Both Afghanistan and Pakistan are important for Russia in its push for greater presence in South Asia. Meanwhile, Pakistan will continue to exert pressure on Afghanistan through groups operating from Pakistani sanctuaries.

Pakistan's attitude has been consistent. The Taliban are the true representatives of Afghan politics and need to be supported in the hope that a Pakistan-friendly government in Kabul will recognise the Durand Line and not allow India any meaningful profile in Afghanistan. We should not expect any change in this approach. Pakistan punishes Afghanistan for being India’s friend and for its policies towards India.

It is relevant to note what two US generals said recently about Pakistan in their statements before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In February, Gen. John Nicholson stated that the Taliban and the Haqqani network were the greatest threats to security in Afghanistan, adding that their senior leaders remained insulated from pressure and enjoyed freedom of action within Pakistan safe havens. They thus had no incentive to reconcile. Later in March 2017, General Joseph Votel, the CentCom Commander, was forthright when he said that out of 20 US-designated terrorist organisations operating in the Afghanistan-Pakistan subregion; seven were in Pakistan. "So long as these groups maintain safe haven inside of Pakistan they will threaten long-term stability in Afghanistan. Of particular concern to us is the Haqqani Network (HQN), which poses the greatest threat to coalition forces operating in Afghanistan." It is eminently clear where the problem is — Pakistan's sanctuary and support for the enemy converting this into a perpetual war. [vii]

If the ISIS is seen as a global threat by those who will meet in Moscow shortly, then the correct way of handling is through global efforts and not through appeasement of a regional menace — the Taliban. By dealing with the latter in this manner, we are only encouraging its mentor and sponsor to continue with its policies in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The Heart of Asia bleeds

Americans now tell themselves this is their longest war with nothing much to show for it, apart from the billions spent and American lives lost. Americans and others can pack up and leave, Afghanistan is not their country. Where do the Afghans go? To some decrepit refugee camps, maybe. So spare a thought for the Afghans. They have seen war and turmoil for nearly forty years. Children have been born to parents and died in the war before they became adults. Many young Afghans have not understood what peace means. Today, their neighbours are preparing to make deals with the Afghans' main tormentors who trade in narcotics and violent obscurantism. The Afghans are told that is in their interest that they do this. Such travesty.

Afghanistan is being punished for its location; Pakistan is rewarded for the same reason and India is simply ignored. That is realpolitik.

Afghanistan will continue to need large amounts of international assistance to build the economy in the decades ahead. There is no getting away from that. Afghans do not need doles and handouts. Their foremost need is to be able to control and eradicate the menace of narcotics that feeds the unscrupulous and the terrorists and denudes the country. The trouble is everyone knows this has to be done, but no one really follows it up. Merely spraying opium cultivation with pesticides is not enough. It is essential to cut off this source of funds to the Taliban and the drug lords. Tonnes have been written about counterinsurgency but much less has been written or done about the drug menace.

Afghanistan needs an immediate upgradation of its military and air force to transform the forces into modern day fighting forces. Similarly, its law and order systems need improvements in recruitment, training and equipment. Weak security systems with insurgents rampant are a sure prescription for disaster. The Afghan government does not need an arrangement foisted upon them.

If we do not begin with a universal declaration defining terrorism and tackling it collectively, and prefer selective appeasement, we are staring at an abyss. Instead of a concerted counter-terror action against the Taliban, we are now seeing some of the most powerful powers of the world meeting to decide how best to acquiesce to them. As a result, what the world will have, including the world they seek to protect, is more of the same. Maybe even worse. The end of Afghan jihad was seen as a victory of the faith over a superpower. A deal with the Taliban will lead to similar interpretations with consequences for all of us, including Pakistan.

India a spectator, or a player?

The first step is to decide whether we want to play to our strengths. Second, that Afghanistan expects a great deal from India, so depending upon our decision on the first issue, what are we prepared to do. Unlike other nations, we need to do something for the Afghans to help ourselves. It is self-congratulatory to tell ourselves our stock among the Afghans is high, our image is good and our soft power is appreciated. The first danger is that this image can change. The second danger is that this will certainly not be enough in the long run. We have to step up our act and be the power that we say we are. This means much more economic developmental assistance in terms of projects, training in skills, technical and medical education, or anything else the Afghans need. Ask them. An India-Afghanistan Economic Task Force that is nimble and empowered will help in quick decisions and rapid implementation. Health and medicine (research production and health care facilities), and academia, both in India and Afghanistan and some scholarships even outside India would help. Research of various kinds, water management, alternative cropping, small-scale manufacture are some of the activities that would help. All these should be geared to creating skills and employment opportunities.

We simply have to step up our military assistance to Afghanistan. We need to be quite forthright about this and not apologetic. Indian interest lies in a robust and comprehensive military assistance to Afghanistan that would strengthen the afghan National Defence and Security Forces. Lack of similar support from other major powers like China and Russia should not discourage us; on the contrary, we should see this as an opportunity. As a regional power, we do not have to perpetually keep looking over our shoulder and seek approbation for our actions. We need to bolster Afghan security across the board to bolster ours. Close intelligence and security cooperation is necessary. India and Afghanistan have a Strategic Cooperation Agreement. This must be energised. For that, we need to remember that we are facing a two-front contingency all the time with China's higher profile in our neighbourhood. We need to remember that ultimately we are on our own in this game. There are no free passes.


References

[i] Why America Can't Win the War in Afghanistan http://nationalinterest.org/print/feature/why-america-cant-win-the-war-afghanistan-19857

[ii] https://warontherocks.com/2017/02/ambling-blindly-back-into-the-mountains-5-hard-questions-for-the-next-phase-of-afghanistan/

[iii] America Can't Terror-Proof Afghanistan http://nationalinterest.org/print/feature/america-cant-terror-proof-afghanistan-19870

[iv] Putin's Dance with the Taliban, Brahma Chellaney, 6 March 2017

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/russia-support-afghan-taliban-by-brahma-chellaney-2017-03

[v] Peace in Afghanistan-A bridge too far, Chayanika Saxena http://southasiamonitor.org/news/peace-in-afghanistan-a-bridge-too-far/sl/21720

[vi] India-Russia in testy waters?, Himani Pant http://www.orfonline.org/research/india-russia-testy-waters/

[vii] How Pakistan Warped into a Geopolitical Monster Robert Cassidy http://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-pakistan-warped-geopolitical-monster-19978

The views expressed above belong to the author(s).

Comments

4 Comments on "The new Great Game: An all Asian game?"

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Ahmad Murid Partaw
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Great article along with very sharp-witted analyses of Afghanistan and its regional environment by His Excellency Vikram Sood.

Ravi Kumar
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Exceptionally well articulated. Lays down with chilling clarity the various elements of the Afghan conundrum.

Rahul Kumar
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Very well analysed! Thank you!

Jitendra Desai
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Very well presented.Compliments.India needs to further increase its presence in Kabul.You are right about USA having no interest in Afghanistan.But we do have.

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