US think-tank wants India to expand Afghan mly training
WASHINGTON (PAN): An eminent American think-tank, known for its close ties with the Pentagon, on Thursday recommended large-scale Indian military training of Afghan officials.
In its latest paper on Afghanistan, the think-tank made the recommendation, two months after US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta sought greater role for India in the war-torn country.
“India should consider expanding this support by conducting large-scale military training inside Afghanistan or deploying a limited number of troops to work alongside Afghan forces and remaining US/NATO personnel after 2014,” said the paper, written by eminent experts Larry Hanauer and Peter Chalk.
Notably, India has so far restricted its role to peaceful developmental purposes and limited training of Afghan forces inside India. New Delhi has categorically ruled out sending its troops to Afghanistan even for limited training purpose.
"One of the main differences between India and Pakistan is that India's pursuit of its goals is more likely to help the Afghan people in the long run," said Larry Hanauer, co-author of the paper and a senior international policy analyst with RAND.
"Pakistan, in contrast, is focused almost exclusively on undermining India's influence in the region." He wrote.
Co-author Peter Chalk said Pakistan was not positioned well to boost trade, and it had demonstrated little willingness to take steps to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans.
Pakistan has explicitly sought to support hardliners in the Taliban, undermining more moderate elements willing to negotiate, as a means of swaying the future course of peace talks in a manner that was consistent with its own long-term strategic goals, the paper claimed.
The RAND paper added both India and Pakistan had stakes in influencing developments in Afghanistan. Both countries engaged in Afghanistan to advance their own respective geopolitical, defence and economic objectives, it continued.
India has so far pledged more than $2 billion in development support, making it Afghanistan's fifth largest aid donor. Pakistan has spent only about $300 million. Indian companies also have invested heavily in transportation infrastructure projects.
More importantly, the paper pointed out, India had recently become involved in Afghan security matters, agreeing to provide light weapons and training in counterinsurgency and high-altitude warfare to the Afghan army, air force and police.
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