May 18, 2006

Vote Bank and Foreign Policy

"In calling India's attention to Pakistan's involvement in this outrage, Karzai implicitly invited greater Indian military involvement in Afghanistan. The manner in which India dismissed his invitation made it appear as if New Delhi was disinclined to embroil itself in what it saw as a purely bilateral squabble between Kabul and Islamabad."
[…]
"Neither Karzai nor the Northern Alliance will complain too loudly if Indian special forces are deployed to protect Indian interests. Some may argue against the use of force in Afghanistan, contending that this is not India's war. If that is so, it is hard to explain India's massive investment in the reconstruction."

Nitin is right as always. But the question is why is India not ready to play a military role in Afghanistan when we are increasing our investments in that country? The answer perhaps lies in our domestic politics. The present UPA govt, which wears its secular credentials on its sleeve, was stunned by the huge violent protests the Indian Muslims had staged against Bush visit and the Prophet Mohammad cartoon controversy. In Assam, Muslims who till the other day were with the Congress formed their own party, Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) that cost the Congress some seats in the recent elections. Their success has now inspired the UP Muslims to launch their own political party, the Peoples' Democratic Front (PDF), to contest the UP Assembly polls next year. Till now in UP the SP, BSP and the Congress fought for the 23% of the Muslim vote pie. Now there is a new entrant and all that the Congress has meticulously planned to woo the Muslims to its side will come to knots if Congress-led UPA deployed our special forces in Afghanistan.
Another matter is that even though we see our armed forces as a secular force, it is not necessary that others see the forces of a mostly Hindu nation as secular. And it doesn't take much effort to motivate a battle-hardened people for a jihad against the 'infidels'.

1 comment:

Nitin said...

RS,

While I would disagree that India is shirking back from a more muscular policy in Afghanistan due to religious reasons, it is entirely possible that the UPA government will offer religion as an excuse for its lack of political resolve.

As for being right as always...Hmm. Maybe you should tell my wife that :-)