Skip to comments.India will speed up work on Afghan, Iran road New Delhi
Posted on 07/21/2006 1:56:37 PM PDT by WmShirerAdmirer
New Delhi is likely to send reinforcements to accelerate the work of constructing a network of roads linking Afghanistan with Iran.
They will supplement the Border Roads Organization personnel working there, according to well-placed sources tracking India's involvement in the region.
The reinforcements in significant numbers will go towards an additional section of road that India is expected to build.
This will be in addition to some of the projects which the Indian agencies, like the BRO, are already undertaking on the outskirts of Kabul, Asian Age reported here quoting sources.
The decision to despatch engineers and other personnel comes despite New Delhi suffering reversals of the killings of Indian personnel working in Afghanistan.
India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a memorandum of understanding in January 2003 to augment Afghanistan's connectivity and access to the coast.
The BRO is constructing the 218-km road that will link Delaram on the main Kandahar-Herat highway in Afghanistan and Zaranj on the Iran border.
The US $ 850 million project is being funded by India and will provide the landlocked nation a shorter transit route (by about 700 km) to the sea via the Iranian port of Chahbahar than it now has through Pakistan.
It was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security on February 4, 2004.
Under this project, Iran is building a new transit route to connect Milak in the southeast of Iran to Zaranj in Afghanistan.
The sources said India would be able to use Chahbahar port for transit.
India and Iran have also agreed to build a railroad from Chahbahar to the Iranian Central Railway System to link with the Karachi-Tehran Railway line, which goes further westward, the sources added.
During Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's visit to India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged an additional $ 50 million in assistance to Kabul, bringing the total Indian pledge to $ 650 million.
Several Indian companies are engaged in Afghanistan and undertaking infrastructure projects.
A BRO driver, Maniappan Raman Kutty, was killed by the Taliban last year.
Another Indian engineer, K. Suryanarayana, was killed in May this year.
Now a direct road from Iran to Afghanistan happy trails to all! (sarcasm)
India News Online » News Analysis
Indians working in Afghanistan : New Delhi to review their security needs
May 08, 2006
Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said the body of kidnapped Indian telecom engineer K. Suryanarayana was found in southern Afghanistan on April 30 before the Taliban deadline was over. It indicated that they were not interested in negotiating for his release but had premeditated his killing. The outrageous demand that all Indians should leave Afghanistan within 24 hours testifies to the real motivation behind this act of terror, he said. The Minister of State for External Affairs, E. Ahamed, also said that the Indian Government was not given the chance to negotiate with the abductors because they murdered the engineer even before a team of the Ministry could reach Kabul. The Afghanistan President, Hamid Karzai, has condemned the killing and ordered the security forces to hunt down those responsible. The enemies of Afghanistan want to stop the country from developing and standing on its own feet, said Karzai while condemning the killing.
While Suryanarayanas company gave a compensation of Rs. 20 lakhs, the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister announced a grant of another Rs. 5 lakhs. In Hyderabad, Suryanarayanas wife, Manjula, had returned from meeting Chief Minister Rajesekhara Reddy, who reassured her of help.
Condemning the cowardly act, political observers say irrespective of the immediate circumstances surrounding the tragedy, the Taliban had really no intention of sticking to the deadline it set for the withdrawal of all Indians working in Afghanistan. The 24-hour deadline itself was unrealistic, a clear indicator that the plan behind the abduction was to shock and awe the people of India not wrest any concessions. Ever since its ouster from power in Afghanistan, the Taliban seemed intent on forcing India to disengage itself from any form of cooperation with the changed order in Afghanistan.
By all accounts, the Taliban appear to present Indias growing involvement in the development of Afghanistans infrastructure, and its repeated endorsement of the leadership of President Hamid Karzai. Following the United States-led invasion in 2001, New Delhi ended its deep association with the Northern Alliance; since it was not involved in the military action, the Taliban did not identify it as an enemy. However, the situation has changed over the past two years on account of the personal rapport Karzai has built with the Indian leadership.
The Government of India has decided to review the security needs of Indians working in Afghanistan following the beheading of Suryanarayana. A team led by Joint Secretary, K.B.S Katoch visited Kabul on April 30 and on return is expected to submit a report after assessing the situation. An estimated 2000 Indians are in Afghanistan, of which a sizeable chunk works for foreign firms. Most of them are technicians, including engineers working in the fields of telecom, road building and other infrastructure related activities. Owing to poor security, they have often been the targets of Taliban. Suryanarayanas murder was a repeat of the slaying of Border Roads Organization driver, R. Maniappan in November last year. Security for Indian workers in government establishments was strengthened after the incident but workers in private concerns, especially with foreign firms, remained vulnerable since it was not possible to deploy forces at all installations where they are employed. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police [TBP] has only 300 personnel to guard the Indian Embassy in Kabul, the consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad and the projects undertaken by the Border Roads Organization. BRO engineers are constructing a 218-kilometres long road between Zaranj and Delaram in south-western Afghanistan which is also of immense strategic importance to India. With Pakistan continuing to deny transit facilities, India aims to gain better access to Afghanistan and energy-rich Central Asia by linking the Iranian Chahbahar port by road to Zaranj on the Afghanistan border and then onwards to Delaram. The project with 2l90 BRO personnel deployed to complete it by 2007, forms part of the overall $550 million Indian assistance to rebuild war-ravaged Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, owing to its strategic location and its history, is too important a country for India to leave, especially after New Delhi had regained its influence in the country post 9/11. Indias profile in Afghanistan is growing and its relations with Kabul straddle diverse sectors including economy, education and technology in sharp contrast to the situation over five years ago when it had no contact with the Taliban regime. Indias engagement with Afghanistan is vital for its ongoing battle against terrorism in the region that derives its moral and material support from the Taliban and powerful Afghan opium lords. India has pledged $650 million for Afghanistans reconstruction in a slew of projects ranging from roads and infrastructure to grassroots development.
For the Taliban, India is now a collaborator and a soft target. From the Indian perspective, a close relationship with Afghanistan is desirable. Among other things, it helps to neutralize Islamabads clout in the region. Sections within the Pakistan establishment have used the Taliban as a weapon against India. A committed relationship with the Karzai Government has its strategic advantages. Political observers say, in developing a coherent response, New Delhi must unambiguously signal that there would be no downgrading of Indian presence in Afghanistan.
Talibans rise, Indias stakes
India has a major stake in a new Afghanistan. If the country had been a breeding ground as well as training centre for terrorists, its geographical proximity to India posed a major security threat to the latter. The fact that many of the Afghan mujahideen groups had been trained, financed and armed by Pakistan, added to Indias security concerns over Afghanistan.
Four years after being ousted from power by the US-led coalition, the hardline Taliban militia is regrouping in eastern and southern Afghanistan and even finding support among locals. The Taliban has claimed to have established its administrative and operational control over certain areas in southern and eastern Afghanistan. There are reports of the Taliban finding new supporters among locals who see them providing better security to people than the Government does. Even the voting for Parliament from these areas last year could not be conducted as the election material and the polling parties could not reach their respective places due to the militants control over the routes. Dai Chopan is one of the worst districts as far as insurgency is concerned. The insurgency is headed by Mullah Dadullah, who has about 400 fighters. Abount 40 Taliban fighters are working in small groups in Nawbahar district. In Khake Afghan district, foreign fighters, mostly Arabs and Chechens, have their base. It is being headed by a Taliban commander, Mullah Qahar, who was the commander for a Taliban frontline during the fight against the Northern Alliance. Qalat, the provincial capital of Zabul province, is headed by Taliban commander Mullah Assadullah who has around 300 fighters. Five months ago, Assadullah masterminded the killing of a Turkish engineer and kidnapped Indian driver Raman Kutty in the Tarnak area. Recently, Afghan President Hamid Karzai confronted Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf with evidence of Islamabads continued patronage of the Taliban. However, Musharraf denied the charge and said that Islamabad was as much a victim of terrorism as New Delhi and Kabul.
The resurgence of the Taliban has a lot to do with Pakistan rediscovering its strategic depth policy in Afghanistan, despite the challenges of having to deal with the Al-Qaeda in Waziristan and NWFP and the Balochistan insurgency. Security analysts have noted that while Pervez Musharraf has been demonstrably hard on Al-Qaeda, he has kept the Taliban under the radar screen. Consequently, they are now better organized, better equipped and receiving ample support from Pakistan to resume their forays into Afghanistan a return to their old role as the Pakistan proxy.
India realizes the difficulties of the Hamid Karzai regime, fighting to eliminate the Taliban with all its means. Despite the humiliating defeat of the hated Taliban regime at the hands of the US-led coalition, these terrorists continue to remain active in certain inaccessible regions and the areas bordering Pakistan. It is known that Islamabad has not given up the idea of using Afghanistan for strategic depth against India, and that General Musharraf has cracked down selectively on Al-Qaeda militants while leaving Taliban operatives free to operate on Pakistani territory. The strategic depth theory is that Pakistans intelligence agency, the ISI, has continued to perpetrate even after the Taliban was ousted from Kabul in November 2001. And despite Pervez Musharrafs turnaround after 9/11 in favour of the Americans and against the Taliban (Pakistan, besides the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, was the only country to publicly support the Taliban in power before 9/11), a section of the Pakistani establishment has not been able to swallow the fact that it no longer controls Kabul. It is this section that has played a major role in the rise of the neo-Taliban. Local Pashtun Afghans, spurred on by their Al-Qaeda mentors and aided by this renegade section of the Pakistani establishment, commonly walk back and forth across the Durand Line. Meanwhile, Musharraf, under constant US pressure to prove his fidelity, sends troops into areas like Waziristan, but to no avail. The Taliban has asserted itself too completely as to make life difficult for Hamid Karzai. This, then, is the source of Karzais anger against Islamabad. In recent weeks, Karzai and Musharraf have exchanged angry accusations and denials about the fact that Pakistan is supporting the Taliban. Since Karzai has been unable to extend his influence beyond Kabul, he remains naturally concerned that the Taliban in southern Afghanistan derives its influence and power from a section of the Pakistani establishment.
A common eyesore for both Pakistan and Taliban is Indias presence in Afghanistan. Conversely, India is determined not to cede influence and turf to Pakistan ever again, with its deepening involvement in Afghanistan. Pakistan had protested against India opening consulates in Kandahar. Jalalabad and Herat , and its latest bugbear is the deployment of Indian paramilitary personnel as its facilities in Afghanistan. Indias most important road project is the Zaranz-Delaram highway from Iran, which when completed will bypass Pakistan, reducing Afghanistans near-total dependence on Pakistan. Its replay of the Great Game on both sides of the Salang Pass.
ping to post #1
"Afghanistan, owing to its strategic location and its history, is too important a country for India to leave"
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