Saturday, January 3, 2009

Afghanistan and the Indian Challenge

The biggest foreign policy challenge for the next Indian Government that will take charge after this year's Federal Elections will be Afghanistan: the war-torn country that depends almost entirely on International aid and illegal drugs.

The devastating destiny that awaited Afghanistan with the Soviet Invasion and the Taliban Government is being rolled out as we speak. Afghanistan is one of the poorest and most unstable countries in the worlds. While a civilian government is in place, most of the country is under the Taliban, which is fighting with NATO forces.

In the din of battle, the cries of help are often unheard. Thousands of Afghan students yearn for quality education, and those who get it yearn for a well-paying job. A vast majority of others simply want an easier way to survive. That's where India comes in, in my opinion. Already, India provides 5,000 scholarships a year and the new South Asian University will provide even more. A majority of seats should go to Afghan students; they need it, they deserve it.

Then there is the issue of jobs. Already, India is constructing infrastructure worth $1 bn in Afghanistan. Most of it will help fuel India's trade and commerce, but the trickle-down effect will create thousands, nay, millions, of new jobs for the people of Afghanistan. Then there is the issue of strengthening democracy. It is heartening to note that India is helping build the new Afghan Parliament. That's the building, now we need to give enough support to the democratic system to make sure it reaches as far as India has, maybe even beyond.

The war in Afghanistan is dangerous for all of South Asia. A successful, democratic Afghanistan will be a boon to India and South Asia as a whole. In Afghanistan, India can find a friend and ally. And a friend in need is a friend indeed. 

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