Because the 9/11 attacks despatched shockwaves internationally, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee wrote to United States President George W Bush on September 11, 2001: “We stand able to strengthen our partnership in main worldwide efforts to make sure that terrorism by no means succeeds once more.”
On October 2, then Minister of State (Exterior Affairs) Omar Abdullah — talking after the October 1 terror assault exterior the J&Ok state Meeting for which Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed duty — referred to as Pakistan “the fountainhead of terrorism on this area, in Afghanistan and in India”.
“At a time when the democratic world has fashioned a broad and decided coalition towards terrorism, India can’t settle for such manifestations of hate and terror from throughout its borders. There’s a restrict to India’s endurance,” Omar mentioned.
And, on October 11 — 4 days after the US launched Operation Enduring Freedom, its world warfare on terror — Exterior Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh mentioned: “There may be now elevated deal with the longer term construction in Afghanistan, in order to carry lasting peace and stability to this war-torn land, additionally to make sure that Afghanistan as each a coaching floor and a sanctuary for terrorists, additionally because the centre of narcotics commerce, as soon as once more turns into a rustic, a society that doesn’t radiate extremism and fundamentalism.”
He articulated India’s imaginative and prescient for Afghanistan: “India has at all times supported an impartial, broad-based, multi-ethnic authorities in Afghanistan. We’re working with the worldwide group in the direction of this finish.”
These three statements basically captured India’s place on the post-9/11 world, a few of which holds true to today. Some uneven waters needed to be navigated alongside the way in which; that is how the strategic recreation unfolded from India’s perspective.
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Ties with the USA
One of many main shifts within the subcontinent within the new millennium was the strengthening of ties between India and the US.
The connection, which had suffered a setback with the nuclear checks in Pokhran, was on the mend after the Jaswant Singh-Strobe Talbott talks resulting in President Invoice Clinton’s go to in March 2000; it grew stronger within the years and a long time that adopted.
The Bush years led to the Indo-US nuclear deal, which elevated ties to the next strategic trajectory. The monetary disaster hit within the closing months of Bush’s time period, and shortly afterward, Pakistani terrorists attacked Mumbai on 26/11.
New Delhi-Washington ties stayed the course beneath President Barack Obama who turned the one US President to go to the nation twice — he hosted each Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi within the White Home throughout his time period in workplace.
Obama thought-about a drawdown in Afghanistan, however ended up growing troop ranges after discussions along with his high officers. His main victory got here with the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011.
President Donald Trump noticed the warfare on terror as a legal responsibility, and he determined to withdraw troops and formally began the peace course of with the Taliban.
Below President Joe Biden, Indo-US ties have continued on the identical rhythm, particularly on the Indo-Pacific technique. However the chaotic American exit from Afghanistan has left New Delhi susceptible at a time when it faces challenges on two of its borders.
“India’s relationship with the US has been essentially the most complete affiliation the nation has had since independence…that is actually a relationship solid in disaster,” Carnegie India head Rudra Chaudhuri wrote in his guide, Solid in Disaster: India and the US since 1947.
Dehyphenation with Pakistan
9/11 was a told-you-so second for a lot of Indian diplomats and officers. India had suffered terror from the Eighties onward — the Khalistan militancy and the LTTE had claimed the lives of two Prime Ministers and lots of different Indians — and the militancy in Jammu and Kashmir within the Nineteen Nineties had proven the brutal face of Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism.
Whereas New Delhi’s considerations have been at all times drowned out by Islamabad’s counter propaganda, 9/11 introduced dwelling to the west, particularly the US, the specter of terrorism emanating from the South Asian area.
9/11 gave Washington the vocabulary to problem Pakistan on the core concern of terrorism. The assaults pressured a dramatic shift in US coverage in the direction of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Coincidentally, ISI chief Lt Gen Mahmud Ahmed was in Washington DC on the time of the assaults, having been despatched there by Gen Pervez Musharraf a few days earlier to steer the Bush administration to have interaction with the Taliban.
On September 12, Mahmud was summoned to the State Division for a gathering with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Based on the account of the assembly in Srinath Raghavan’s ‘The Most Harmful Place: A Historical past of the USA in South Asia’, Armitage informed him: “Pakistan faces a stark alternative… Both it’s with us or it isn’t; this was a black-and-white alternative with no gray.” Pakistan had “no manoeuvring room”, Armitage mentioned.
Whereas Musharraf yielded grudgingly and half-heartedly, the Parliament assault in December 2001 gave ballast to the Indian argument.
Whereas terror assaults stored taking place via the years that adopted — from the blasts on Mumbai’s trains to the markets of Delhi — what elevated counter-terrorism cooperation to the entrance and centre of the connection with the US was the assaults of 26/11.
“The Mumbai assaults misplaced Pakistan the Bush administration’s sympathy for good”, journalist-turned-diplomat Hussain Haqqani wrote in his guide, ‘Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the US and an epic historical past of confusion’.
“US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice informed then Pakistan NSA Mahmud Durrani that there have been continued contacts between LeT and ISI. ‘There may be materials help to LeT and the LeT has only in the near past killed six Individuals’,” Haqqani, then Pakistan’s envoy to the US, wrote.
“ISI chief Shuja Pasha visited the US for a gathering with CIA director Michael Hayden. He admitted that the planners of the Mumbai assaults included some “retired Pakistani Military officers”. Based on Pasha, the attackers had ISI hyperlinks, however this had not been an authorised ISI operation,” Haqqani, mentioned.
The belief deficit widened after Bin Laden was discovered and killed in Abbottabad — it was a transparent reminder that Pakistan was not enjoying straight with the Individuals.
President Donald Trump, who adopted Obama, was indignant at Pakistan’s duplicity, which he expressed via the New Yr’s tweet in 2018. However he quickly realised that Pakistan was key to the peace course of in Afghanistan.
America’s chaotic exit from Afghanistan final month underlined the constraints to the technique of the warfare on terror.
Washington, which had been extraordinarily depending on Pakistan for the outcomes in Afghanistan, got here again to Rawalpindi in 2017-18 for the peace course of with the Taliban. For New Delhi, the alarm bells began ringing as quickly as Pakistan turned the important thing dealer.
Over the past 4 years, a fait accompli has unfolded. New Delhi watched with concern because the US moved in the direction of exiting Afghanistan, forsaking chaos.
In his guide ‘Descent Into Chaos’, Ahmed Rashid, writer of ‘Taliban’, summed up Pakistan’s method in the direction of Afghanistan: “The Pakistan Military has to place to relaxation its notion of a centralised state based mostly solely on defence towards India and an expansionist, Islamist strategic navy doctrine carried out on the expense of democracy.
“Members of the Afghan elite want to understand the chance to be born once more as a nation, an opportunity they got by overseas intervention in 2001 and worldwide support since then…the worldwide group has to do much better than it has accomplished to defeat the Taliban.”
After the raid on bin Laden’s compound, the Navy Seals collected computer systems, stacks of paperwork, and scores of onerous drives from the home. One of many key takeaways from that stash was that Bin Laden was planning a bid to unite the disparate factions preventing the US-led coalition in Afghanistan right into a grand alliance beneath his management.
Writing on this within the guide ‘The 9/11 wars’, journalist Jason Burke mentioned this could have been the al-Qaeda chief’s most bold try and applicable a neighborhood wrestle for his personal world one.
Based on Burke, many felt that after the troopers left, support and a focus would disappear too. He wrote a few dialog he had round 2014 with Fatima Karimi, a 29-year-old trainer. “Will probably be chaos. Will probably be civil warfare. Every thing we have now gained will go,” she informed him.
Many diplomats have advised that now’s the time for New Delhi to remain engaged. There must be “minimal engagement”, former Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Gautam Mukhopadhaya mentioned not too long ago. And the connections with the “freedom-loving” individuals of Afghanistan must be maintained via liberal visa regime, he mentioned.
Beijing ready within the wings
China’s rise over the past three a long time has been acknowledged as maybe essentially the most consequential improvement of the twenty first century.
And with China’s rise — which has coincided with the US and the West’s dominance being challenged — India has discovered itself in a tough spot.
Beijing’s aggressive assertion of energy has led to contestations with nations all over the world, from the US to Australia, Japan to India. And one of many publish 9/11 world’s largest geopolitical challenges has been to work out a technique to cope with China.
New Delhi had seen this coming, and US administrations had ignored the warning indicators till Obama began speaking in regards to the idea of “Pivot”. Nevertheless it was not till Trump that the US clearly spelt out China as a strategic risk and a rival. This framing has continued beneath President Biden.
With the exit of the US, Beijing’s inventory within the area — particularly in Pakistan-Afghanistan — has risen. This has been one of many unintended penalties for New Delhi and the world. And the Quad has been resurrected as a part of the brand new vocabulary to cope with the Chinese language problem.