90 thoughts on “Open thread: India must send troops to Afghanistan”

  1. R. Turney, I agree with you about being cautious and as other posters have stated, a cost-benefit analysis that considers all possible outcomes needs to be done as part of this sort of decision making.

  2. Its important to send troops there because [a] Indian forces might be able to conduct joint-ops with US troops, leading to better force enhancement [b] It would be a major leap towards defeating the Pak army isi and talibani gameplans towards maintaining a strategic depth region against India and [c] enabling Indian troops to cut the oxygen supplies of global jihad inc. in its incubators.

  3. All i am saying that India has much to gain, economically as well as politically by sending it’s troops in Afghanistan. If it doesn’t want to, there can be n no of reasons – ideological as well as practical. But thereafter it should stop whining about the superpowers not applying sufficient pressure on Pakistan against “India’s” war against terrorism.

  4. Although the gang of left islamic combine – the yadav secularists of UP and Bihar and the Nehruvian liberals would disable any attempts to send Indian troops.

    The pan India islamic vote that has emerged in recent years has very strong implications.

  5. Singh says “An Indian military involvement in Afghanistan will shift the battleground away from Kashmir and the Indian mainland.”

    I think this is a highly debatable assumption. One which deserves much greater scrutiny.

  6. I think it is inevitable that India will need to severely threaten Pakistan and a part of that strategy would be to move troops to Afghanistan.
    However, India must time this well. A better question would have been, “When must India send troops to Afghanistan?”

  7. sanjay wrote:
    “But thereafter it should stop whining about the superpowers not applying sufficient pressure on Pakistan against “India’s” war against terrorism.”

    The point is “pressure on Pakistan” only results in the Pakistani army temporarily focussing their efforts elsewhere until the point where they are capable of turning their attention towards India again — this has gone on long enough to be a very predictable pattern for those who pay attention.

    US wanted Pakistan to fight the war and India is already helping by keeping tensions down even in the face of bare-faced provocation from Pakistan given the way it has handled the 26/11 terrorist case in Pakistan. The larger point is that if the lives of Indian troops are being sacrificed in Afghanisthan, there needs to be payback for India as a whole, and “stabilizing Pakistan” is no Payback at all given pakistan unremitting hostility towards India since its inception.

  8. India would favor Indiam Miliary intervension inside Afganistan but only on certain conditions like

    1) India must work with SCO members and the intervention must be as part of SCO initiative. If India is seen as working along with China, Russia and the other neighbors — thats the best option

    2) India must not be the most visible face of the internatoinal force, and India must make it clear, that it will be there only as long as international forces are there.

    3) India must not get deployed in Tabilan areas (that plays to pakistans advantage)

    However, I doubt India has the ability to fight in Afganistan ..meaning even though it has enough boots, it does not that the money to run afgan-war…India will ask US to pay and thats not going to happen.

    I think the best strategy to win AF-PAK, is to do everything thats possible to make Tabilan and pakistan fight off against each-other. Taliban must hate paksitan as much as it hates India/US…we need to get to that stage,..if we do..cleaning up the mess will be a “cake-walk”

  9. @ SR Murthy
    >> The point is “pressure on Pakistan” only results in the Pakistani army temporarily focussing their efforts elsewhere until the point where they are capable of turning their attention towards India again — this has gone on long enough to be a very predictable pattern for those who pay attention.

    Pakistan is a sovereign country and has a right to choose its policies we have the right to choose ours.

    >> The larger point is that if the lives of Indian troops are being sacrificed in Afghanisthan, there needs to be payback for India as a whole, and “stabilizing Pakistan” is no Payback at all given pakistan unremitting hostility towards India since its inception.

    War by its nature results in losses, which can be minimized with better tactics/field craft/leadership but not entirely wished away. The payback for India is the very reason why it should be proactive and send its troops now, rather than wait till it turns into an all out civil war and Indian Army will have no other option but to contain the fallout. On the other hand there are also chances that Pakistani Army is able to contain the Jehadis to “US’s satisfaction” (not necessarily ours or worlds) without letting it spin out of control. It’s nuisance value will get a boost in its arm and will turn all its energy resources and US backing on the Kashmir issue.

  10. “Pakistan is a sovereign country and has a right to choose its policies we have the right to choose ours.”

    Lol. Yes, one of their policies directly affects my ability to lead my life. Err, terrorism, Jihad waged against India. Their sovereign policies is directly responsible for a lot of trouble.

    isnt it similar to saying, “Everyone with an independent mind can murder others”

    “The payback for India is the very reason why it should be proactive and send its troops now, rather than wait till it turns into an all out civil war and Indian Army will have no other option but to contain the fallout.”

    Indian Army will contain the fallout. There is no other proof that suggests that Indian Army will better contain the fallout if it gets involved “right now”.

    And US backing the Kashmir issue wont help/solve the kashmir issue. The stalemate will simply drag on.

  11. The biggest question is why should India do anything? India probably has calculated the fallout of a worst case scenario which is a city or two nuked along with a couple of million lost lives or the other “hollywood” scare of nooookes falling into jihadis.

    I think India should sit back and enjoy seeing the world sweat a little. Now it is increasingly becoming clear that the pan islamist agenda is no longer limited to India but every other country which allows women to show their knees.

    May the Jihadis multiply by a dozen.

  12. Strong No. If we stay out, Pakistan gets their crown jewel back and helps blow up a few more Buddhist statues. If we get in (how DO we get in?) we’ll end up leaving in disgrace like the Soviet Army (and like the IPKF had to).

    No payoff – none. Only dead Indian soldiers. Definite pass.

  13. “War by its nature results in losses, which can be minimized with better tactics/field craft/leadership but not entirely wished away.”

    Perhaps. However, internet warriors are not going to be getting killed in that war and only real professional soldiers will, and I respect their lives as much as I respect mine, and so I am not commenting on sending other people to their deaths. But I will say that it is prudent to keep Indian soldiers ready and able and with good morale to head into a war when the loaded diaper really hits the Khaitan device and India’s territorial integrity and sovereignity is at stake. I doubt any Indian will question deploying the Indian army during such times.

  14. Yes, but not to join NATO forces or to proactively fight Talibs.

    In case you are intrigued by what I say, let me explain.

    There can be no dispute over the fact that it is better for India to have some sort of engaged presence and involvement in Afganistan than to be out of it completely. We, as an emrging superpower, cannot just let Afganistan become pakistan’s extended backyard from which it can carry on its odd and mostly nefarious acts against us.

    At the same time, as many comments here rightly suggest, we cannot afford to get drawn into an IPKF-like situation again.

    Which is why, the Indian govt (both under ABV and MMS) has been encouraging Indian businesses and relief organisations to establish a presence inside Afghanistan – keeping military involvement off the table.

    However, not surprisingly, Pakistan could even stand such undisruptive Indian presence in Afghanistan. So we had our embassy bombed and citizens kidnapped/murdered.

    Clearly, India needs to do something more than what it has done so far in Afghanistan. And my recommendation is to send in a certain number of troops, with the official position being that these are to DEFEND our installations and contractors risking their lives to help the Afghan people. The mandate for the troops would be to (i) protect our buildings/workers there and (ii) conduct specific tasks/raids as our intelligence/military leadership deems fit. Our troops MUST NOT be part of any NATO or other effort to fight Talibs or bring overall peace/democracy to Afghanistan — that will be disastrous.

    Keeping a certain number of troops with the objectives mentioned above will actually have some real benefits. Our embassy and workers will be safer, and our industry will thus benefit from lucrative nation-building contracts (funded by US taxpayers!). Indeed, if we make it clear that any further attacks on Indians in Afghanistan will necessitate a further surge in our troop presence there, the Pakistanis may be tempted to scale down their attacks on our interests/people there.

  15. We can have our personal opinions but strategic decisions are not taken by what you and i think. Despite majority of Indians opposed to the idea of engaging our army in any conflict, our defence forces remains perhaps one of the most overutilized in the world. The no. of soldiers getting killed in Kashmir, North East, Naxal infested areas, terrorism etc. remains one of the highest in the world, not to talk of the civillians killed alongside which is even more, and the reason in most of these cases are our own faulty decisions and indecisions, be it terrorism or naxalism. I would like to quote Barrack Obama here (don’t know if it’s his own or his speech writer’s) “Instruments of War do have a role to play in Peace”.

  16. “The no. of soldiers getting killed in Kashmir, North East, Naxal infested areas, terrorism etc. remains one of the highest in the world, not to talk of the civillians killed alongside which is even more, and the reason in most”

    Right. That is a good reason not to spread forces even thinner — the other point that I can’t seem to get across is that strategic decisions need to place human costs higher in the cost/benefit analysis than you seem to be doing. The cost of those soldiers lives is not warranted given that the end conditions are not going to be much different than today with the ISI and the Pakistani Army still in control.

  17. Sushant does a fine job rebutting the opposition to military deployment on principle or irrational fear. India as a sovereign state must be willing to deploy troops when it serves her interests.

    That said, Sushant falls short on making a case for deployment.

    ‘Shifting the battleground’
    As the United States has discovered, the battleground has already shifted to Pakistan. How does a deployment in Afghanistan solve the Pakistan conundrum?

    So what is the mission? What will we go to win and when will we come back? Or are we talking about a permanent presence to keep the bad guys out?

  18. Sending troops to Afghanistan or not is not the real issue. The real issue is containing jehadi terrorism or living with it. We seem to be contented with the latter thereby ensuring that our army remains forever engaged with them and we keep suffering human lives to terrorist. What US is doing is managing the conflict in a manner that it doesn’t effect their land, we are not their concern. The fact is that the jehadi terrorism which is effecting India as well can only be defeated by an international joint effort, India has an important role to play, not to save the world but it’s own citizens.

  19. “The real issue is containing jehadi terrorism or living with it. We seem to be contented with the latter thereby ensuring that our army remains forever blah blah”

    No, the real issue is recognizing that sans the removal of the fountainhead of terrorism, all the hot air about “containing jihadi terrorism” won’t be enough to float all the trial balloons that Pakistan sends out every few days.

  20. NO. NATO countries are not willing to lend troops or any credible increase in support to the US in Afghanistan. This is because US only uses the troops without giving the participant nations any say in the future course of Afghanistan. Secondly, Pakistan may think that this is an attempt to encircle them (much like China thinks that the US is empowering India to act as a counterweight to China) and they are unlikely to forget the bombing of Karachi in the Indo Pak War of 1971, IIRC. Thirdly, Afghan people have a innate trust and goodwill for India. Sending troops may be seen as supporting a widely acknowledged as corrupt ( but the best we got) government propped up by the US in Afghanistan. Exertion of soft power will yield better results than hard power in the form of troops.

  21. Plus I agree with SR Murthy, we should not (cannot) spread our forces any thinner. Morale will suffer from constant deployment in the various war scenarios of the world, including the already deployed forces in the UN Peacekeeping forces around the world. The story of IPKF, which I don’t know through memories (was too young), and it’s parallels in this case generates tremors of fear in my mind.

  22. >> “the real issue is recognizing that sans the removal of the fountainhead of terrorism, all the hot air about “containing jihadi terrorism” won’t be enough to float all the trial balloons that Pakistan sends out every few days.”

    By your logic only an allout Indo-Pak war can solve the problem of terrorism for India. I am saying that is not required, the same result can be achieved without war with pakistan, but i think it’s futile to try and show you any light, you can have the last word.

  23. “By your logic only an allout Indo-Pak war can solve the problem of terrorism for India. ”

    That is your logic, pal. Stop interpreting my words for me. My point has been that unless that Pakistani army and ISI are taken down, any talk of solving the jihadi problem in Pakistan-Afghanisthan is donkey dung. The USA has reasons for wanting to keep the Pakistani army and ISI alive and kicking — India does not. Did that get through this time? I doubt it. A nyway, I am done.

  24. sanjay writes:
    “I am saying that is not required, the same result can be achieved without war with pakistan,”

    Other than wishful thinking I do not see any evidence in your posts of how the Pakistani Army’s jihadi armies can be “solved”. Trying to pretend that Pakistan’s congenital hatred for India does not enter into any of these equations is a fool’s errand.

  25. i really think we are debating an impossibility here. India doesnt have the essential power projection capacity to handle such a deployment in the first place. Irrespective of the hypothetical pros and cons, i seriously doubt this is a logistically, politically or fiscally viable option. Jaswant singh i think (if i remember correctly) made an argument for a deployment when US first entered afghanistan, but from what i remember it was based on a short term hit and clear strategy, not a ‘nation building’ deployment. That was at least viable, whether advisable or not.

  26. I have presented my case in various comments and to sum up finally, Pakistan derives all its nuisance value from its cold war alliance with US, it is able to get away without being penalized for creating religious organisations like taliban to be used as an instrument of war to achieve their strategic objectives one of which remains Kashmir because US used the same organisations to achieve “their” strategic objectives when they needed. To cut pakistan to size India is justified, but need not enter into a war with Pakistan. It has to forge military ties with US and remove it’s dependence on Pakistan as frontline coldwar military ally in south asia at least outside of pakistan, like afghanistan, of course the jehadi mess within pakistan has to be cleaned by themselves, there is no other option. With the american crutches gone Pakistan will lose much of it’s nuisance value. But that is not going to make the terrorists disappear. That is going to be a long drawn and bloody process which we have seen in Kashmir, Israel and elsewhere.

  27. Let us accept that Pakistan’s nuisance value for the USA has diminished in the cold war sense, and they need Pakistan fixed. Here is the problem — Pakistan has no intention of fixing itself. The Pakistani elite and army are in denial. If you read all the Pakistani papers today, you find them all voicing conspiracy theories about India and “hindus and jews” — and these are the “moderate” Pakistanis I am talking about. Pakistan’s nuiscance value is still pretty significant for China if USA is removed from the picture.

    I understand one of the strategies is to economically tie up Pakistani elite’s economic interests with India, so that India has more leverage than Pakistan.
    Here is the problem with that plan — once Pakistan gets out of its current hole, it will gladly lend its services to the Chinese in order to screw Indian interests.

    Assisting the Pakistanis at a time when when they are unravelling would just provide the India-hating elite more leverage on India than they currently have. If it was only a US-Pakistan-India play then weakening Pakistan’s role would help India. But if we consider China as an interested party in all this, they would be more than willing to assist Pakistan if the US were not around.

  28. “Pakistan has no intention of fixing itself. The Pakistani elite and army are in denial.”
    I have said earlier that the jehadi terrorism can only be defeated by an international joint effort which is already on, and India which is one of the worst effected has adopted – “it’s a western world mess we have nothing to do with it” stance. Pakistani elite and army can afford to ignore India, not the whole world.
    “Assisting the Pakistanis at a time when they are unravelling would just provide the India-hating elite more leverage on India than they currently have.”
    It is not about assisting Pak, our strategic objectives should be based on national interest not on what Pakistani elites think about India.
    “if we consider China as an interested party in all this, they would be more than willing to assist Pakistan if the US were not around.”
    Chinese Pakistan-philia has always been a part of the equation, that is all the more reason to forge alliance with the US,

  29. Indeed India must send the troops to Afghanistan. Reasons 1) Afghanistan could be the gateway for Central Asia for India 2) This will lead the diversion of rogue resources in Pakistan 3) Built in Afghanistan will certainly be extra asset for India against/with China; (All that government fears that the Indian Troops in Afghanistan wont go well with Indian Muslims)

  30. To all those who subscribe Indian military intervention in Afghanistan, my suggestion is – Why you not land in Afghanistan to fight those extremist elements? Some sort of anti Jihadi force, which can become global non-governmental initiative with people joining from US, EU etc. I mean, wouldn’t it be a right test to check our commitment to the values that we discuss at times so vehemently. On serious side, advantage of any such development would be that once people start retaliating pan Islamists in their own coin it will send them in chaos. However,I think this wouldn’t fit well in the Euro- American world order which is hell bend to preserve advantages it has built over last couple of centuries.

  31. sanjay wrote:
    “It is not about assisting Pak, our strategic objectives should be based on national interest not on what Pakistani elites think about India.”

    Yes, obviously. It is the claim that there is a “strategic objective in assisting pak economically” is the bit that is bogus. Here is why: what is the leverage India gains by such assistance to Pakistan?

    Specifically, the plan is (if I understand) to control the interests of the Pakistani elite by economically tying their interests with the Indian economy. Two questions: (1) How does this increased access to Indian territory protect the average Indian from more terrorist cells — Pakistanis land up for cricket matches, disappear, and then show up in some sleeper cell that commits a terrorist attack. (2) If the Pakistani elite are overridden by jihadis, which is more than idle speculation at this point, then what is the use of such economic engagement with the two-faced pakistani elite?
    That is yet to be explained by people claiming that “economically engaging Pakistan” is a worthwhile strategic direction for India at this time.

  32. sanjay wrote:
    “I have said earlier that the jehadi terrorism can only be defeated by an international joint effort which is already on, and India which is one of the worst effected has adopted –”

    Which has been pointed out as nonsense — you have deliberately ignored the central point that leaving the Pakistani Army/ISI/elite (that hate India more than others) influence on Pakistan behind when delaring “victory over jihad” is not a victory over jihad for India at all. Just the worthless fantasy of someone that wants Indian troops in Afghanisthan.

  33. SR

    1. i never said “economically engaging Pakistan and/or it’s elite is a worthwhile strategic direction for India”, i too would love to know how exactly.

    2. i only said “with the american crutches gone Pakistan will lose much of it’s nuisance value. But that is not going to make the terrorists disappear. That (i.e. finally declaring victory over jehad) is going to be a long drawn and bloody process which we have seen in Kashmir, Israel and elsewhere (as long as Pakistan is home to those jehadis, unless you want to engage in a war with Pakistan. India would be perfectly justified to do so even if it does.)

    I am tired of repeating my posts. Now we are just wasting stationery. Happy Blogging :).

  34. Cheers, sanjay, I think you underestimate the Pakistani ability to be a phenomenal nuisance, that is where their true abilities lie. I will just leave it at that.

  35. India is heavily invested in Afghanistan, has troops on the ground from the BRO, and provides training to ANA officers in its military academies. Increased military cooperation with the ANA is a certainty, but deploying more troops must be done with a clear objective.

    India should not get involved in fighting an insurgency, but can increase military-to-military cooperation, construct bases, depots, airfields, and barracks, and provide training for raw recruits in the ANA.

  36. YES

    Its been a long time since our Armed Forces saw any real action on other soil. Kargil was our own land, but not on the other side of fence. Since, IPKF, our army is doing only Policing job, like checking militants in Kashmir.

    Let our boys have some fun…

  37. We have to ramp up humanitarian assistance, capacity building much more before putting boots on the ground. If we have a legitimate stake in Afghanistan, then no reason why we shouldn’t enhance our military presence to support our strategic objective of contributing to the rebuilding of a moderate, progressive, democratic republic.

  38. @Airavat’s comments are pretty much in line with the views I also expressed (can be seen above).

    The Indian govt has been encouraging Indian businesses and relief organisations to establish a presence inside Afghanistan – keeping military involvement off the table.

    However, not surprisingly, Pakistan could NOT even stand such undisruptive Indian presence in Afghanistan. So we had our embassy bombed and citizens kidnapped/murdered.

    Clearly, India needs to do something more than what it has done so far in Afghanistan.

    So we could send in a certain number of troops, with the official position being that these are to DEFEND our installations and contractors risking their lives to help the Afghan people, not to do any peacekeeping or helping NATO.

    We could use the same troops to also conduct specific tasks/raids if necessary.

    Indeed, if we make it clear that any further attacks on Indians in Afghanistan will necessitate a further surge in our troop presence there, the Pakistanis may be tempted to scale down their attacks on our interests/people there.

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