On  August 15, 1947, India gained independence. But the joyous occasion was marred by the ghastly violence. The scars of partition have been deeply rooted and cause regular instability of peace and tranquillity between India and Pakistan. Afghanistan on the other hand has always had a historical significance as well as a geopolitical importance with India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India had envisioned to establish cordial relations with India’s neighbours. But, India since independence has been a victim of external aggression and State sponsored terrorism. It has been internationally recognised that both Afghanistan and Pakistan are breeding grounds for terrorism and terrorist activities. India has always appreciated the importance of establishing sound foreign relations with these countries to counter terrorism and terror related activities. Apart from counter insurgency, India has also given due attention in establishing strategic partnerships such as economic, cultural partnership etc. The Narendra Modi government has initiated the revival of such ties which may be beneficial. With State cooperation and understanding, peace can be established in the region. The focus of this piece is to throw some light towards the significance of establishing cooperation and understanding, and how it can be beneficial to the Indian interest.

Counter-Terrorism

Pre 9/11, Afghanistan was  a country without any stable regime and under the influence of terror groups. Such groups often used to damage India’s integrity. Pakistan had used the nation to consistently jeopardize India’s interest. Nevertheless, after 9/11, with American aggression, a new front opened for India to develop its ties with the new government. Such ties were considered to be highly crucial to counter terrorism. India has been a victim of terrorism and many scholars have propagated the need to establish ties with the governments. Pakistan on the other hand, has always tested India’s patience. Whether it be the attack on the Parliament or the Mumbai attacks or the recent attack in Pathankot, India on many instances has been vulnerable to cross border terrorism; by non-state actors, supported by Pakistani agencies such as ISI. The Indian side under the leadership of Narendra Modi have often taken a tough stand  and the recent visit  to Afghanistan and Pakistan has been seen to be a commendable move. Though, such a move was  criticised by parties like Shiv Sena – who claimed it as a betrayal of the government’s stand against terrorism. Widely even in the international community, such efforts by Modi have been wholeheartedly appreciated. Now the questions that arise  are whether India must continue its talk with both Pakistan and Afghanistan after recent attacks in Pathankot? Whether India must continue to hold Secretary Level meeting with Pakistan? The answer would be in the affirmative. Cancellation of such meetings which aims at establishing more cooperation and partnership would only aggravate the animosity and worsen the situation. War cannot be considered as a final solution. Our Hon’ Prime Minister has successfully envisioned it, his vision has led to a positive response from the other side to cooperate fully and bring the culprits to justice. However, few impediments are still prevalent to establish complete cooperation between these three nations. The presence of Taliban in Afghanistan or the presence of various terrorist groups in Pakistan or various State sponsored terror activities causes grave inconvenience in facilitation of smooth functioning towards establishing peaceful relations with the neighbours.  In the end, if it is to be desired to maintain stability in South-East Asia, it is highly imperative to have a stable trilateral relation between these three countries. Any sort of aggression must be collectively dealt with.

Strategic Cooperation

India, Pakistan and Afghanistan share a deep cultural history. India and Pakistan are children of the same mother. Nonetheless, some tragic events have widened the differences. Many efforts  were made earlier to revive the shared culture. On various occasions such efforts had been successful, yet  there is a long way to cover. Apart from defence cooperation, India has given utmost importance for establishing cooperation in trade and commerce. Recent approval for granting Indian citizenship to a Pakistani singer was one such effort. India must open its door to facilitate trade, business and strategic partnership with neighbouring countries. Today, the Indian entertainment industry consists of several foreign artists. Apart from entertainment, sports can be viewed as a connecting factor. Both, cricket and hockey are religiously followed in these three countries. Many initiatives can be taken and are underway to organise matches between the national teams. With the combined efforts, these goals can be achieved. It is  also realised that cooperation does not restrict only towards defence, but there are many doors to enter the house. As stated above sports, entertainment, business etc can  be an icing on the cake. With the development of one state, the other states may reap the fruits. Development can only be possible with a collective effort. Establishing sound strategic partnership will only serve the purpose. However, at times these partnerships are constrained only in words. With a long shared hatred and lack of common consensus on several issues mars these visionary goals. Steps have now been initiated and it is to be hoped that a successful outcome will come out of it.

Modi’s Efforts

With the regime change in Afghanistan, a little shift is seen towards Pakistan. Many diplomats and luminaries have addressed this issue with a concernbut the Hon’ Prime Minister of India dealt with this challenge efficaciously. With his visit to Kabul, he tried to establish strategic relation with Afghanistan and a surprise stop in Lahore amazed many. The motive was entirely diplomatic but this has gone in favour of Narendra Modi. With his visit to Afghanistan and surprise visit to Pakistan has been internationally acclaimed and seen as a new ray of hope for sound trilateral relations. Immediately after the visit, the attack in Pathankot created strains between the countries. However this time the Government of India has taken a bold decision of not cancelling any sort of peace dialogue with their neighbours. This move has been welcomed by Pakistan  as well, and several intel has been exchanged. Nevertheless as said earlier, many steps are yet to be taken. Terrorism has been seen as a hampering factor for the establishment of sound relations and it can only be countered with a collective effort.

It cannot be said that the results will come instantaneously, but light in the dark has been seen. With effective leadership and mutual cooperation, stability between these three nations can be enhanced.