Revising India- Afghanistan Strategic Partnership
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
Issue Net Edition | Date : 24 Dec , 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with President of Afghanistan Dr Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, and President of Iran, Mr. Hassan Rouhani (File photo)

The interplay of political developments, economic changes and social transformations of Afghanistan remains to be most crucial to India’s national security.[1] Yet its foreign policy towards Afghanistan has been incoherent, ill-structured and in absence of a long-term policy action.

In light of India’s historical ties and bilateral relations so far, international environment and defense policy outputs of certain foreign states towards Afghanistan, my article aims to revisit India’s foreign policy with Afghanistan, review various schemes and initiatives and propose a fresh perspective to bilateral relations.

In light of the circumeferencing question, of whether destruction of cultural heritage has been a deliberate military objective in the state of Afghanistan, I aim to assess the adequacy or lacunae in India’s social-political-economic policy with Afghanistan.


Be it Russia’s periodic engagement of Pakistani forces on Afghanistan’s border or United States’ funneling of arms and supplies for its resistance, Afghanistan has found itself at the mouth of chronic political instability, military insurgency and as a result a frequent victim of debilitating turmoil. Victim of invasion under the veil of improving the barbaric social norms and preventing society from abuse, oppression and the unalterable cruel religious and cultural beliefs, Afghanistan has been subjected to systematic destruction of cultural heritage.

The US military invasion in Afghanistan on ‘humanitarian mission’ to forcibly change the dictator regime instead of achieving democratization, triggered a wave of political instability; factional violence and fuel terror attacks. Toppling dictatorships with military force like in Afghanistan has not brought a new era of instable democracy in these countries. 

India should aid Afghanistan in having its independent national security strategy in furtherance of which Afghanistan should pursue its military strategy and revamp its training, equipment and capacity building programs. The core principles of Afghanistan’s national security strategy should include preservation of independence of state and strengthening of free institutions to protect territorial integrity, to promote democratic growth of institutions thereby preventing hostile powers from domination domestic affairs, to boost economic growth with the assistance of international participation. It should be able to strengthen its ability to meet its commitments considering its complex geostrategic position. Its grand strategy should includes economic, infrastructure, conditions of peace and stability, modern military and an inclusive socio political demographic.

From a defense and military standpoint, it would imply and include revamping the military infrastructure taking a larger role in Asia pacific region ensuring peace against conventional security challenges. Ensuring human security and socio economic balance. The military strategy should be able to counter non conventional security challenges such as transnational crime, smuggling, trafficking, piracy, wildlife, terrorism by use of hybrid, information nuclear, electronic, and economic methodologies above and in consonance with conventional air, land, sea.

Foreign policy along with military strategy should not be looked at from a narrow point of view by just improving, working upon and providing for immediate neighbors, short term economic demands, dynamically erupting socio-political events and responding to them. It should be laid down as a fundamental norms aligned with a vision of global stage India shall assist Afghanistan in occupying with renewed set of bilateral and multilateral policies in international forums such as RECCA, ECO, CIS, CSTO, CAREC and SPECA.

Economic Growth

While India has invested in institution building and infrastructure in Afghanistan, the Joint Working Group development policy under the strategic Partnership 2011[2] framework should revamp its co-operation inmining industry, energy sector, information technology, skill development programs[3] and agriculture. Afghanistan’s helmand province happens to have the richest and rarest of earth’s mineral deposits. It is a geological wonder of natural resources most of which have remained unexplored. This shall aid in unlocking and uplifting the state from poverty and turmoil. The largest known deposits in Afghanistan iron, copper and niobium. Where as other known mineral deposits include cobalt, gold, molybdenum, asbestos, silver, potash, aluminum, graphite, lithium, strontium, lead, zinc, mercury, phosphorus, magnesium.[4]

Joint commercial activity would bring in investment and technology transfer, create jobs, promote international and domestic industrial co-operation programs and revive the economy for institutions building and catering to the needs of its armed forces. This will provide means to counter insurgencies and other non-conventional threats along with building up trade relations.

It was once called the cross road of trade routes and confluence of diverse cultures. Energy sector provides a unique opportunity of mutual benefit. India can provide logistical, infrastructure and technological assistance to Afghanistan to meet its 7,000-megawatt energy requirement.[5]Smart grid connectivity in hydropower plants, solar plants along with energy generation from minerals can transform Afghanistan into a potential energy exporter. This can institutionalize through a regional energy security policy thereby contributing towards development and stability in the region by bringing in revenue and generating employment. Furthermore it can open improved and enhanced trade partnerships in Turkmenistan- Kazakhstan belt region through Afghanistan.

The Turkmenistan- Kazakhstan hydrocarbon rich belt region can be explored only through consistent and coherent security-infrastructure development policy in the region. Agriculture sector poses significant threat to the country’s food security. About 12% of the total land is arable out of which less than 6% currently is cultivated.[6] Primitive irrigation and erratic weather has put constraints on Afghanistan’s agriculture output. India can not only assist in irrigation technique and food export to Afghanistan but also invest in agricultural-research and development to increase produce in harsh arid-erratic topography of Afghanistan.


A trans- national legal dialogue keeping in mind the respective country’s different constitution and Islamic laws of governance would aid in increased policy and regulatory harmonization. This initiative has been earlier proven results not only a month common law jurisdictions but also between a civil- common law divide[7] as the dialogue involves a research by policy legislators and jurists on empirical and jurisprudential questions. This participation can find its discourse from security, revised infrastructure policy, national development policy and economic policies to multilateral international initiatives and administrative law principles for setting up robust institutions of governance.

Democracy is more a decision making by discussion rather than simply elections. Sen invites us to engage in public reasoning in pursuit of justice in practical terms and reflecting on the impartiality and fairness of policies. Sen introduces the concept of niti andnyaya, where niti refers to correct procedures; formal rules and institutions while nyaya looks at the world as it emerges from the institutions created rather than institutions. He argued that we should embrace nyaya rather than niti and our thinking should be global.[8]

As per Article 4 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the nation of Afghanistan is comprised of Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara, Uzbek, Turkman, Baluch, Pachaie, Nuristani, Aymaq, Arab, Qirghiz, Qizilbash, Gujur, Brahwui and other tribes.[9] This multi ethnic and mostly tribal population has its own challenges of effective governance and social development drawing a comparative analogy with India’s tribal multi ethnic population concentrated in its northeastern states.  

Indian constitution[10] has a provision of making autonomous districts and regions with tribal population. These provisions have outlined a regulatory structure so that their respective culture, ethnic identity, norms and rituals remain preserved. As per Schedule 5 and Schedule 6 of the constitution, these regional councils in scheduled areas are given certain limited legislative and judicial authority, which aids in pursuit of the larger intent of preserving and protecting these multi-ethnic tribes. Such regulatory frameworks could be incorporated for the governance of multi ethnic and tribal population of Afghanistan.  

Considering the dynamic social political demographic of the country, a tran-judicial dialogue would as Rado argues aim towards achieving “a global dynamic and unsystematic process of diverse horizontal, diagonal, and vertical interaction, cooperation, and networking, between courts and judges, beyond national borders, involving the exchange of substantive, procedural, ethical, and court management ideas and experiences, using a variety of both, formal legal and extra-judicial mechanisms”[11]

The geo-strategic location and position of geopolitics have placed will place Afghanistan and India’s partnership in a more active role in Asian politics to encourage regional groupings for stronger defense relations, joint co-operation, production and development, training and utility for enhancing the effective forces to greater pedestals.


[1] (2019). Text of Agreement on Strategic Partnership between the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2019].


[3] (2019). Cabinet approves Memorandum of Understanding between India and Afghanistan in the field of human resource development. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2019].

[4] (2019). Afghanistan’s Hidden Gems. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2019].

[5]TOLOnews. (2019). Naghlo Dam Turbines Up And Running | TOLOnews. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2019].

[6] (2019). Agriculture – Afghanistan – crops. [online] Available at: [Accessed 15 Dec. 2019].

[7]Lambert, Hélène. “Transnational Judicial Dialogue, Harmonization and the Common European Asylum System.” The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 3, 2009, pp. 519–543. JSTOR,

[8]Sen, A. (2011). The idea of justice. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

[9]Constitution of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.Article 4.

[10]The Constitution of India, Article 244, Article 275.

[11]Rado, K. (2018). The Transnational Judicial Dialogue of the Supreme Court of Canada and its Impact. PhD. York University.

Rate this Article
Star Rating Loader Please wait...
The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

More by the same author

Post your Comment

2000characters left