Q) India has been a major stakeholder in Afghanistan and peace in the region has always been crucial for her. Discuss.

Why this question 

Important part of GS paper-II. 

Key demand of the question:

Significance of Afghanistan for India, India’s role in Afghanistan’s development and the challenges in their cooperation. 


Discuss- back up the answer by carefully selected evidence to make a case for and against an argument, or point out the advantages and disadvantages of the given context and finally arrive at a conclusion.


Briefly give an overview of evolution of India’s ties with Afghanistan. 


In the first part, categorically highlight the significance of Afghanistan for India and the developmental role played by India in the region. 

In the next part, talk about the recent peace process going on in Afghanistan and the concerns related to it that may hamper India’s interests in the region. 


Conclude with a way forward. 

Model Answer

Over the years India’s approach in dealing with Afghanistan has shifted focus from the narrow security centric approach to regional confidence building, development, governance and trade and investment failing to use Afghanistan’s resource potential to build its economic viability, sustainability and independence.

Significance of Afghanistan for India 

  1. Economic- according to a joint report of The Pentagon and US Geological Survey, Afghanistan has an untapped resource potential of about US $ 1 tn. This makes it an ideal ground for growth of Indian companies. 
  2. Security- A stable and secure Afghanistan is crucial for regional and domestic security and stability in India. If the country becomes a centre of radical ideology and violence again, it would be detrimental to India’s interests. In addition, there are concerns about drug trafficking through the Afghanistan route.
  3. Connectivity – Development of Afghanistan will help India to create a link connecting to Central Asia unfulfilled its own energy needs and trade interests in the long term.
  4. In partnership with Iran, it also allows for serving India’s maritime interests.
  5. Strategic- it remains important for India to maintain relations with Afghanistan to prevent Pakistan from gaining a strategic depth in the region and using it for anti India activities. 

India’s developmental projects in Afghanistan

  1. India has pledged more than  2 billion US dollars in Afghanistan uninvested in diverse areas including healthcare, education, infrastructure, social welfare add in the training of politicians, diplomats and police. India assisted Afghanistan in building their Parliament.
  2. India is the 5th largest donor to Afghanistan and the largest regional donor.
  3. India is implementing high visibility large scale projects in relatively stable areas and low visibility small developmental projects in relatively remote and insecure areas in order to increase its sectoral spread and geographic reach.

Challenges in India’s efforts

  1. Withdrawal of NATO led Security Assistance force personnel from Afghanistan has raised concerns about an unstable Afghanistan get again turning into a springboard for destabilisation and terrorism.
  2. Pakistan’s behind the scenes support for the Taliban in destabilising indias development efforts is aimed at neutralising India’s regional power expansion.
  3. Increasing gap between short term projects which heightened peoples expectations but with limited follow action or integrated plan in terms of job creation or building an industrial base is fueling despair and discontent among the local population.
  4. He shows in financing and capacity lead to delays in large scale infrastructure projects.
  5. Monitoring of these projects remains a challenge and an insecure and inaccessible district matters can be much worse.
  6. In the face of deteriorating security situation and insurgent influence or control of territory the sustainability of these projects is doubtful.
  7. Sometimes the aid delivered is not always in harmony with the needs of the community.

Way forward 

  1. India needs to shift from asset creation to programme delivery.
  2. There is a need for changing the long held policy of non engagement with Taliban for India to be a part of Afghan peace process.
  3. In the immediate and medium term, There is a need to establish small and medium sized enterprises to help revive the Afghan indigenous economic base.
  4. Further strengthening the bilateral relations with the government in Afghanistan.

Avoiding a security-centred role, India adopted a soft power approach, re establishing cultural and historical links between the two countries. India has always believed in secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan and has taken steps for the same and will continue to do so in the future.