Talibanization of Afghanistan will hit India hard: Brajesh
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NEW DELHI: India will be one of the biggest losers if Talibanization grips Afghanistan and extremism spreads through Pakistan. Therefore, it is imperative that India ramp up its defence preparedness, which has been hopelessly neglected since the end of the cold war, says former national security adviser Brajesh Mishra.

Addressing a meeting of strategic and security experts at a new think-tank, Vivekananda International Foundation here on Friday Mishra said India was completely without allies and had to fight this war all on its own.

India should also expect more terror attacks from Pakistan-based groups, if the Taliban find a bigh enough space in Kabul.

In the Afghanistan game, India stands to be the big loser and Pakistan the big gainer. India will need to think ahead to reverse that situation, he added.

Mishra said India had no diplomatic clout to prevent the current developments in Afghanistan (where a huge effort is under way to bring the Taliban back into the fold and in government); nor does it have the military clout to take on the threat that, he said, was clearly developing.

For perhaps the first time in its history, he said, India faces a threat on two fronts, China and Pakistan. While in the past, the two threats did not come together, India can expect that in future, these threats can come together.

"The government has to take a strategic decision that India's military growth must match its economic growth. We can't let ghosts of Bofors or fears of corruption stifle our military acquisitions."

If the US and NATO forces leave Afghanistan in the next few years, and Taliban gets a piece of the government, there will be consequences in the region and in South Asia. In Central Asia, he said, there would be greater fears of extremism rising in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan etc. which would have its own implications for China, US and Russia. In a Talibanized Afghanistan, Pakistan would ensure that Chinese interests -- especially economic interests -- would be protected, as against attacking Indian interests there.

In South Asia, Mishra said, "Talibanization of Afghanistan would give an impetus to the Taliban of Pakistan. This would have an adverse impact on India."

In the past nine years, since the US invaded Afghanistan, little has changed in its fundamental reality. Mishra expects that over the next couple of years the Taliban will control a fair amount of territory in Afghanistan and Pakistan. "We should not be carried away by reports of dissension within the Taliban," he said. Afghan president Hamid Karzai too was negotiating with hardline Taliban because it was unthinkable that any reconciliation with the Taliban could be done without its chief, Mullah Omar.

Published in Times Of India: Mar 13, 2010

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