Weekly Insights and Analysis

Divining Afghanistan’s Future

July 13, 2011

By Karl F. Inderfurth

President Barack Obama’s June announcement that the United States will pull 33,000 troops out of Afghanistan by the end of next summer provides a strong catalyst for Afghanistan to assume a central focus in both meetings [U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue, Pakistan-India ministerial dialogue]. India and Pakistan are in the midst of assessing the implications for their respective nations as the United States begins its withdrawal.

Pakistan regards having a friendly government in Kabul as essential to its national security, especially if instability and chaos rise as Western forces depart. Its great fear is that India will be able to step into this vacuum, leaving it the most influential outside power in the country. India will have, in effect, “encircled” Pakistan.

For its part, India says it is in Afghanistan for the same reasons as the rest of the international community: to prevent it from again becoming a safe haven for terrorists. It also cites historically close relations with Afghanistan and the importance of access to Central Asia.

In unrelated news, today in an interview with AP, Inderfurth shared his reaction to yesterday’s bombing in Mumbai. Watch video.

Read the full article, originally published in the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ “U.S.-India Insight” July newsletter.

Asia Foundation trustee Karl F. Inderfurth is the former assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs and a senior advisor and Wadhwani Chair in U.S.-India Policy Studies at CSIS. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the individual author and not those of The Asia Foundation.


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