The Real Victims of India and Pakistan Proxy War

Hostility between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been ongoing now for about four decades, whereas hostility between Pakistan and India has been present since 1947. The proxy war between between India and Pakistan lies in Afghanistan. It all started after the collapse of Dr. Najibullah's regime in 1992, which had been backed by the former USSR, which coincided with the establishment of Pakistan backed mujahideen government and then Taliban regime. The Afghan and Pakistan officials repeatedly talked about the proxy war and Pakistan confessed their involvement, but India accuses Pakistan only and refuses its involvement. The US-led war against terror has helped to conceal India's proxy war. Now is the right time for Afghans to debate, analyze and discuss this issue in depth, as well as to define their relationships based on mutual interest with both countries.

The Afghans, the US allies and Pakistan have paid a high price for this ongoing proxy war. But the Indian government is not willing to admit its responsibility. Over the last decade, every attempt at peace talks with the Taliban insurgents has been blocked by Pakistan due to a major a condition. The condition they try to impose is for Afghanistan to cut ties with India. The relationship and friendship with India has been costly for Afghanistan, it costs the lives of thousands of innocents Afghans and billions of dollars in damage and destruction. India has provided hundreds of low-quality scholarships and assisted in reconstruction projects, which is highly appreciated. But Pakistan has sent hundreds of suicide bombers and terrorists, which are dubbed "good militias" by Pakistan's leaders. Of course, the expectations regarding Pakistan's efforts are different, but still India has not contributed enough.

Besides the proxy war, Pakistan has repeatedly attacked Afghanistan, occupied strategic locations along the Durand Line, and killed dozens of Afghans with cross-border shelling. India has never shown a credible response to Pakistan's aggression. India's leaders have been ignoring the facts and have not even responded to Pakistan's political and military interventions in Afghanistan. Contrary to the Pakistanis' demands to cut ties with India, the Afghan government has given unprecedented access to India by welcoming its four consulates throughout Afghanistan. Indian companies have even been rewarded major mining contracts. In 2013, during the most difficult times, when Afghanistan was suffering from cross-border shelling from Pakistan and former Afghan president Hamid Karzai visited India and urged India's supportive efforts to stop those attacks, India did not even respond. Ultimately, President Karzai returned to Kabul empty handed.

Afghans are proud of their historic relationships with India and they would like to further grow and strengthen this relationship. But a friendly relationship between Afghanistan and India is not tolerated by Pakistan - and this has to be recognized by India. It's not a secret anymore that Afghanistan and Pakistan are at war, partially as a result of Indian relationships. It's wise for Afghanistan to sustain its partnership with India, but as an ally India should assist Afghanistan in the peace process. If required, it should not leave Afghanistan alone in this ongoing war. The war was defined by the Afghan president, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani as an "undeclared war." We equally need each other and only together can we stand stronger against our common enemies and their supporters. Only a self-sustaining and prosperous Afghanistan can be a strong ally of India and other partner countries. Thus, India should further support Afghanistan in an effort to arrive at a self-sufficient Afghanistan.

The long-lasting relationship and honest friendships of Afghans should not be misused. It is tactless for Afghanistan to remain a battleground for the two dangerous nuclear regional powers. India has not even taken a clear stance in support of the Afghan National Security Forces. India is privileged that the US and its allies as well have been fighting their proxy enemy in Afghanistan. If India truly wants to sustain its relationship with and presence in Afghanistan; the Afghan people deserve India's sincere support. The relationship with India should be clearly defined and India should not interfere in the peace process. If the Afghan leadership is not independent and strong enough to hold these two countries accountable, the Afghan nation has the right to hold them accountable through the UN Security Council for ending this proxy war.

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