CABLE SHOWS INDIAN INVOLVEMENT IN AFGHANISTAN, AS FEARED BY PAKISTAN
BROOKLYN — India is heavily involved in nation-building efforts in Afghanistan, with the decisive nod of now recently-deceased diplomat Richard Holbrooke, according to a confidential cable sent to the State Department from New Delhi nearly 11 months ago.
The cable, transmitted in January 2010 and signed by Timothy J. Roemer, the top American diplomat in India, suggested that Pakistan’s fears of Indian influence in Afghanistan may be substantiated to some degree, as news of the departure of the top CIA station chief in Pakistan reverberates between Islamabad and Washington.
Holbrooke’s interlocutor, Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, emphasized that her government’s activities in Afghanistan were wholly “transparent” and not cause for alarm by the Pakistanis, who claim that its arch-rival is meddling in Afghan affairs.
The cable added, “Rao said that Afghanistan has the potential to prosper as a hub or transit point for energy, agriculture and trade if it could be connected to its natural market in India. She said it was unfortunate that Pakistan does not allow this to happen.”
Further, the Indian Foreign Secretary said that Iran could also have a “positive” role in taking part in Afghan efforts to rebuild their war-torn country, a prospect that Washington may be very loath to countenance.
However, one day after that cable was sent, Bruce Riedel, a South Asia expert with background in the CIA, Pentagon and the National Security Council, disclosed that Indian involvement is no secret, nor is their work with the Iranians.
In an interview with Council on Foreign Relations official Bernard Gwertzman, Riedel said, “India announced completion of a $1 billion project to build a road connecting Afghanistan’s main highway to a main highway in Iran, giving Afghanistan access to the Indian Ocean without having to go through Pakistan.”
Riedel added that as far as New Delhi was concerned this was a good development, but as the situation is seen in Islamabad, which is “obsessed with the threat from India,” the infrastructure project and other work “looks like encirclement.”
In another cable, marked secret and dated June 29, 2009, Indian Army Chief of Staff A.K. Antony informed National Security Advisor James Jones, “India has a stake in Afghanistan, reminding him that India’s borders before partition extended to Afghanistan.
“The Indian military is concerned by the situation in Afghanistan, Antony admitted, and stressed that the international community’s operations there must succeed because the India cannot imagine for a moment a Taliban takeover of its ’extended neighbor.’”