Think tank calls on India to revise Afghan strategy

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New Delhi,June 9 (ANI-Business Wire India): The India Research Group, a think-tank of Indian policy professionals, released comprehensive recommendations today to revise India's strategy in Afghanistan.

The report - "India's strategy in Afghanistan: A Farewell to Dilemmas" says that India needs an independent, long-term policy towards Afghanistan driven by pro-active initiatives.

The report which has been drafted by a taskforce of Indian development professionals and academics who have worked extensively in Afghanistan was informed by insights from veteran Indian experts on Afghanistan.

"India's stakes in Afghanistan are multi-faceted and India's policies there will affect the way other countries perceive India", says Raja Karthikeya, one of the lead authors of the report.

The report says that India enjoys tremendous soft power in Afghanistan but the challenge lies in converting that soft power into influence.

Also, Pashtuns in Afghanistan feel alienated by India, and the report recommends a series of measures to address this perception.

The report argues that while there are no "good" or "bad" Taliban, the Taliban are not a monolithic political entity and that hence, India should differentiate its approach towards various groups that constitute the Taliban in different regions of Afghanistan.

Broadly, in pushing for an Afghan rather than an externally mediated solution to the conflict, India should back the Karzai government's Reconciliation efforts with the Taliban.

The report suggests India's approach to various regional powers on Afghanistan. India should convene a forum for dialogue between multilateral political and military entities - NATO, SCO and SAARC on Afghanistan to reduce duplication of reconstruction effort.

"India's policy in Afghanistan should neither be predicated on Pakistan nor should Afghanistan be on the agenda of any dialogue with Pakistan. At the same time, India should encourage Afghanistan and Pakistan to settle the Durand Line dispute", says Mohsin Khan, a lead author of the report.

The recommendations of the report include the following proposals:

India should view Afghanistan as a collection of regions rather than a collection of ethnicities and develop a different policy for each region of that country

India should engage with provincial level leaders on all sides of the war

India should diversify focus into small-scale construction projects based on the demands of the local communities including places of worship

In order to benefit the entire Afghan population, India should engage in developmental projects in Taliban-controlled areas as well

India's most immediate priority is to secure its citizens in Afghanistan. India's stakes in Afghanistan need to be better communicated to the Indian public so that even in the face of a terrorist attack such as the attacks in February in Kabul, public support for India's commitments to Afghanistan remains unfazed

India should also help the Afghan Army constitute special warfare teams in key battalions on the lines of ghatak platoons of the Indian Army

Public diplomacy initiatives need to be stepped up. These include training for Afghan sportsmen including cricketers in India, a sustained medical diplomacy initiative involving Afghan-run clinics with medical personnel trained in India and quotas in Indian engineering colleges for Afghan students. (ANI)

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