News

Analysts: India-Pakistan Cooperation Key to Success in Afghanistan

Sharon Behn

Pakistan and the United States are working to get their relations back on solid footing as Washington prepares for a military drawdown in neighboring Afghanistan.  But some experts believe the more critical factor for peace in the region lies in ties between Pakistan and India.

Analysts in Washington say the relationship between Pakistan and India may turn out to be the most important factor in Afghanistan's future, and that Washington could play a greater role in encouraging the two nuclear-armed rivals to cooperate.

Hassan Abass is a professor of International Security at Washington's National Defense University.  Abass said he thinks the area will be in for a difficult time if the United States pulls its military forces out of a politically and economically weak Afghanistan in 2014 without any strong regional consensus. "Leaving Afghanistan in this situation, without a regional or international understanding, means more war, more violence, at least it means continued instability," he said.

The key, Abass says, is collaboration between India and Pakistan.  But Abass says despite recent improved ties, the two sides continue to try to influence the outcome in Afghanistan through different proxies.

Islamabad accuses New Delhi of conducting intelligence operations in the region, and India accuses Pakistan of turning a blind eye to armed militants operating out of its territory.

Shuja Nawaz, director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, says there is no simple solution.  He says that while it makes sense for Pakistan to change its laws so that it can move against these groups inside Pakistan, politically it is a very difficult task for Islamabad. "Until now, they have had an extremely weak legal system and even weaker resolve to move against these groups for various political reasons," he said.

But the recent spillover of various insurgencies and militants' activity into Pakistan, Nawaz says, could force Pakistan's government to focus inward. "The realization, I hope, will grow not just within the government and the military establishment, but also in Pakistan society as a whole that this is a much more serious and immediate threat to Pakistan’s stability and that it does Pakistan no good to allow the export of such activities either with or without the knowledge of the government," he said.

Moeed Yusuf, of the United States Institute of Peace, says persuading India and Pakistan to play a greater cooperative role could take on more importance for Washington, as a long-term US-Pakistan partnership, beyond that of counter-terrorism, may not work out. "I don't think the strategic interests match to the point where these two sides could become principle allies in South Asia," he said.

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have been rocky for years, and anti-terrorism cooperation between the two came to a halt over a NATO cross-border strike in November that killed 24 Pakistani military personnel.

While both sides have been working to restore positive ties, the United States has reacted coolly to conditions set out by Pakistan's parliament to reset relations and reopen NATO supply routes to Afghanistan.

The conditions include a stop to drone strikes in Pakistan and that Pakistani territory not be used for the transport of arms or ammunition into Afghanistan.  Washington did not say whether it would abide by those recommendations, but said it would discuss the policy points with Islamabad.

Yusuf insists that peace and stability lie in the normalization of ties between India and Pakistan. "Afghanistan is important, but Pakistan-India is the key element to this," he said.

He says the more Washington can do to bring those two sides together, the better the outcome will be in neighboring Afghanistan.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs