India in a little, NATO looking for a way out

400 Indian commandos in Afghanistan. No relief for NATO, though

Last May, after the Taliban brutally murdered an Indian telecommunications engineer working on reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, this blog had repeated its call for India to strengthen its troop levels that country

Here’s what it should do — in addition to increasing the strength of regular army/paramilitary forces securing Indian projects, facilities and development workers, it should station special force units in key locations in Afghanistan. Their command post must be located in Kabul or Jalalabad, not New Delhi. India must speak to the Taliban in the language they understand. The para commandos, for example, speak that language very well.

Well, now, over a year later, the Indian government has decided to do something like that.

India is doubling its deployment of highly trained commandos to combat the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

The commandos, from the crack Indo-Tibetan Border Police force that specialises in high-altitude operations in the Himalayas, are being sent to guard about 300 Indian road builders working on the 218km Zaranj-Delaram highway, which will connect Afghanistan’s second city, Kandahar, with the Iranian border.

The highway, part of an Indian aid project, traverses the heart of the Taliban badlands and engineers working on the project have been the target of frequent attacks.

The new deployment meant almost 400 commandos would be in the area to combat Taliban attempts to halt construction of the highway, Indian news agency PTI reported.

The move suggests New Delhi is prepared to take on a more significant role in security operations against the Taliban within Afghanistan, something leading members of the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan have been urging for some time. [Bruce Loudon/The Australian]

It’s nice to know that the Indian government finally decided to put some muscle into its Afghanistan policy. And it’s not exactly surprising that leading members of the NATO-led coalition are just too eager to cop out. Europeans, especially, do take ‘leadership’ in international security matters, like for instance, the French after the Israel-Hezbollah war. They’ll just send a general and perhaps, an air-conditioned tent for his field headquarters, (which probably won’t be pitched anyway for he’ll choose to stay at a safe distance).

9 thoughts on “India in a little, NATO looking for a way out”

  1. “Europeans, especially, do take ‘leadership’ in international security matters, like for instance, the French after the Israel-Hezbollah war. They’ll just send a general and perhaps, an air-conditioned tent for his field headquarters, (which probably won’t be pitched anyway for he’ll choose to stay at a safe distance).”

    Hang on a minute, it is bit rich to criticise Europeans for failing to send thousands of soldiers to fight the Taleban in India’s backyard. What did the “strong” BJP Government do when the Indian Airlines flight was hijacked? Fighting the Taleban is in India’s interests and so this is something India should be doing and not the Europeans. Also, not all Europeans are eager to cop out. see

  2. This is good news. India should also think of building roads in the “Wakhan Corridor” and then get more troops into this corridor to safeguard the workers.

    If anyone want to know why, then take a map of that region and figure it out.

  3. Shankar,

    Perfection is not a pre-requisite for criticism. If it were, there wouldn’t be any criticism at all.

    But there’s a difference: Europe goes about pretending to be a major player in international security, India doesn’t. So it’s one thing for Europeans not to put their money where their mouth is, and entirely another for India to be cavalier about its own interests. I think the difference is important.

  4. Shankar,

    I won’t include the UK in ‘Europe’. British policy is more aligned to the US than to its EU counterparts. (And we won’t get into the vexed question of whether Britain belong to Europe or is the 51st state of the US)

    From the link you cited

    “The appeal went out to other Nato nations – such as the Germans up there in the safe part of Afghanistan in the north,” our correspondent said.

    “Yet it is the British troops once again who are having to reinforce – the third or fourth reinforcement.” [‘BBC’, emphasis added]

    Here’s an older post about NATO’ reluctance to put up troops.

  5. Nitin,

    Point taken about perfection not being a pre-requisite for criticism.

    I still think Britain is very much in Europe. Having a pro-american foreign policy does not automatically make you anti-EU. In fact some big EU members are moving closer to America following recent electoral results. But this is just my opinion.


  6. To cite a non-European nation, Canada has been punching far above its weight class in Afghanistan, in the number of troops they have sent and the casualties they have taken. PM Harper, to his credit, says it is vital for Canada to stay involved, while many Canadians do not see the point of it all.

    Also, the June 9th issue of The Economist has an extensive obituary on Indar Jit Rikhye, an Indian soldier who made a name for himself as a peacekeeper:

  7. Does this mean defacto Pak veto in US decision making with regards to Afghan is no more. We’ll see the political staying power of these troops and how much backing our media will give them (I am sure some are dusting up HRV op-eds already).

    Also, I won’t undercut French military so easily – they are pretty good and their special forces are second to none. But miscues are about Chirac’s lack of stomach for any action. I’d think Sarkozy would have taken a better lead. Agree UK is hardly European in fighting terms, but I’m sure new PM will put a stop to it.

  8. Having Indian troops fight the Taliban is an investment India must make, even if Afghanistan might end up the way Bangladesh has – one more neighbour, racing with Pakistan and China to be the most anti-India country on earth. Without making an effort we would never know. Plus knocking those goons off in Afghanistan is always preferable to knocking them off after they cause mayhem in Karol Bagh. And there won’t be those stupid problems that you have now with presidential pardons, Afzals and “human” rights activists . You must have a few Indian battalions fighting there. And it gives our troops the freedom to do what they have been trained to do – fight an external enemy with a clear mandate, rather than maintain peace during “race to the bottom” caste wars on the Jaipur – Delhi highway !

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