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Afghanistan: A zone of Competition between India and Pakistan

Ibrahim,Nasim (Sogang University, Graduate School of International Studies)

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Why are India and Pakistan competing in Afghanistan? Historically, Afghanistan has become a site of competition and contestation between regional and global powers due to its significant strategic location. Tsarist Russia and the British India competed for years to bring Afghanistan under their infl...
Why are India and Pakistan competing in Afghanistan? Historically, Afghanistan has become a site of competition and contestation between regional and global powers due to its significant strategic location. Tsarist Russia and the British India competed for years to bring Afghanistan under their influence. The US and the Soviet Union also fought for more than a decade in Afghanistan because of the strategic role that Afghanistan played for them. However, in competition between India and Pakistan, the geostrategic importance of Afghanistan does not seem to be the main factor causing the competition. This thesis argues that India and Pakistan compete in Afghanistan because of their existing conflictual relationship in South Asia. Using the framework of South Asia Security Complex, it presents that India and Pakistan’s competition in Afghanistan is related to resolving their own security dilemmas within the South Asian region. Both states want influence in Afghanistan because they seek solutions to their own internal and external insecurities. The conflict between India and Pakistan in South Asia Regional Security Complex is asymmetric. India has surpassed Pakistan in terms of gross national power (population, territory, economy, military force) and has gained global superiority; however, it has failed to locally win over Pakistan, stabilize the region and gain respect as a major power. Thus, For Pakistan, it is necessary to gain influence in Afghanistan in order to maintain the strategic depth against India. It also allows it to continue an asymmetric war against and locally balance India in the region. For India; however, gaining influence in Afghanistan through economic ties allows it to be recognized as a major benefactor in the region. It also helps India to contain Pakistan and curb the growth of fundamentalist Islam, insurgent groups, drugs and weapon trafficking across the border which are the key factors fueling instability in the region.