Ingress to Afghanistan

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 11 months ago

India has long been very wary of the Taliban, having fought Islamic extremists in the Kashmir region for years. Hence, they knew long before the U.S. did that political and security problems would cast doubt on the supply of arms and other military materiel to NATO forces in Afghanistan. Karachi is the next target of the Tehrik-i-Taliban, and it is the port city of entry for NATO supplies. We predicted Karachi would be at risk months ago. India also stands to lose with the ascendancy of the Taliban, i.e., India itself is at risk. So India has been busy, but on what?

KABUL, August 07, 2008 (AFP) – India has almost completed a key road linking Afghanistan to Iranian sea ports despite Taliban attacks that claimed more than 100 lives in two years, the deputy public works minister said.

The 217-kilometre (134-mile) route connects a nearly completed ring road around Afghanistan to the Iranian port cities of Bandar-i-Abas and Chabahar, the official told AFP.

Eight Indian engineers and more than 100 Afghan workers were killed in Taliban attacks since the construction of the road began more than two years ago, said Minister Wali Mohammad Rasouli.

There were a few sections of route that had to be touched up before a handing over ceremony was held in a few weeks, he said.

Landlocked Afghanistan relies mostly on Pakistan’s port of Karachi for goods arriving by sea, including supplies for the nearly 70,000 international soldiers helping to fight a Taliban-led insurgency.

The road was initially budgeted at 80 million dollars but is reported to have cost 185 million dollars, in part because of the high security risks of operating in southern Afghanistan.

The route, already open to traffic, is a welcome alternative, since goods can sometimes be held up on alternate routes from Pakistan, where they are also often subjected to high taxes, Rasouli said.

“The new road is very important for us,” he said. “Now we have an alternative road to use when Pakistan creates problems and obstacles for our traders on their ports.”

Islamabad also does not allow goods from India — its enemy — to transit through Pakistan into Afghanistan.

Kabul has a good relationship with New Delhi, one of the main financers of its efforts to rebuild from decades of war although it has not sent troops to join the international military effort against the resurgent Taliban.

However its ties with Islamabad are strained, notably over the unrest.

Kabul alleges that elements in Pakistan, including its government, are supporting the Taliban. Islamabad was one of only three countries that recognised the 1996-2001 Taliban regime.

A road to Iran. This is truly bizarre. A sworn enemy of the U.S. and perpetrator of all manner of anti-Western military operations through its proxy Syria and Hezbollah, the idea that Iran would ever knowingly allow support for NATO forces in Afghanistan to transit through its borders, while also actively working for the defeat of the very same forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq, calls this report into serious suspicion. If it’s true, it isn’t readily apparent why India would have worked for such a road.

It would have been easier to secure disputed areas of Kashmir (or construct air fields to supply NATO via flights over the Northern region of Kashmir) than to get Iranian agreement to assist NATO forces in Afghanistan. To make this report make any sense whatsoever requires a better analyst than The Captain’s Journal. We believe that India has wasted its time and money.

  • Slab

    I’m no foreign policy or poli-sci expert, but I would venture that India is looking to increase her influence in Afghanistan. The road has nothing to do with support to NATO, it has everything to do with increasing India’s standing in Afghanistan.

    Westhawk has a good analysis of the current situation between India and Afghanistan.

  • Dawg

    India has quite good relations with Iran and buys a lot of oil from the iranians. The road would primarily be for THEIR goods, not NATO and certainly not US supplies. For Iran it is good for business, and, it gives them leverage over both India and to a certain degree, Afghanistan, if needed.
    America needs to focus more on Balochistan, both regarding Iran, but also Pakistan. Iran is quite vulnerable with at least three sizeable minorities, such as the Kurds, Baloch and Arabs. None of them like the majority (51%) Persians and want independence from them. The Arabs are mainly in Kuzestan, not too far from Iraq. That is, by the way, where most of Iran’s oil reserves are. I think Balochistan is part of the “key” to securing Afghsnistan. Get the Baloch on our side – independence perhaps – and things get better in Afghanistan. For the moment, Pakistan is something of a “Gordian knot” for us, regarding Afghanistan and the entire War.
    Also, something SUSTAINED nedds to be done in the FATA as well as in the Waziristans. Peshawar needs to be secured, as well as Quetta and more rural areas such as Miran Shah, etc. Takes a lot of Troops, though. And political courage.

You are currently reading "Ingress to Afghanistan", entry #1230 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Iran,Kashmir and was published August 8th, 2008 by Herschel Smith.

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