Issue BriefsPublished on Aug 23, 2023 PDF Download
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The Afghanistan Factor in India’s Approach to Central Asia

This issue brief examines how Afghanistan facilitates India's objectives vis-a-vis Central Asia and explores how engagement with Central Asia, in turn, could play a major role in furthering India's interests in Afghanistan.

Over the past decade, India has stepped up its efforts to reach out to the Central Asian Republics (CARs). New Delhi’s approach to the region has been shaped, in part, by its Ointerests in Afghanistan. Given the geographical location of the CARs—especially Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan—and the convergence of objectives vis-à-vis Afghanistan, greater engagement with these countries is crucial to India’s Afghan policy. India’s ‘Connect Central Asia’ policy, announced in June 2012, can also be viewed in the context of the impending drawdown of foreign forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Given these strategic imperatives, a greater engagement with CARs is crucial for India’s interests in Afghanistan.

But that is only a partial view. India also sees Afghanistan as a possible transit to Central Asia in the future, a gateway for a regional trade and transit hub. India has made efforts to achieve this end.

However, just as there are limitations to India’s engagement with the CARs on Afghanistan, there are a
number of obstacles that have to be overcome before Afghanistan can become a viable transit route to Central Asia.

This Issue Brief seeks to examine the Afghanistan factor in India-Central Asia relations. The Brief is divided into two parts. The first section examines how Afghanistan facilitates India’s objectives vis-a-vis Central Asia. The second explores the ways in which engagement with Central Asia could play a major role in furthering India’s interests and objectives in Afghanistan.

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Aryaman Bhatnagar

Aryaman Bhatnagar

Aryaman Bhatnagar is a foreign policy security and political analyst based in New Delhi. He was a German Chancellor Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt ...

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