Trump’s Afghan Policy | AIR Summary

President Trump has outlined a revised version of US strategy for the war in Afghanistan. He has pledged an end to the strategy of “nation-building” and instead focused on a policy with an aim more squarely at combatting the terrorist threats emanating from the Afghan-Pakistan region.

Good news for India –

In the speech outlining his Afghan policy, President Trump said, “We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan and we want them to help us, especially in the areas of economic assistance and development.” Hence, he has announced that he wishes to further develop strategic partnership with New Delhi to achieve America’s objectives in Afghanistan but emphasised that he wants India to take bigger responsibilities in the reconstruction of the war-torn country.

It is to be noted that India has already been at the forefront of reconstruction of Afghanistan and the lives of its people despite resistance from Pakistan.  We have invested about US$ 2 billion in the war torn nation.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had already praised India as an important partner in the effort to ensure peace and stability in the region and highlighted our role in supporting Afghanistan’s political and economic modernisation.

India’s response –

India has welcomed President Trump’s resolve to enhance efforts to combat the challenges of material and moral support provided by safe havens of terrorists.

Official statement of Ministry of External Affairs say that – “India is committed to supporting the Government and the people of Afghanistan in their efforts to bring peace, security, stability and prosperity in their country.  India has been steadfast in extending reconstruction and development assistance to Afghanistan in keeping with traditional friendship with its people.  These efforts will continue in partnership with other countries”.

India’s support to Afghanistan –

India has always taken a leadership position in the reconstruction activities for Afghanistan in the form of  building of highways, dams and most importantly, the Parliament building of Afghanistan.

Besides, India is also involved in training and capacity building exercise of Afghan bureaucrats and military personnel besides providing the necessary support for Small Development Projects and scholarships for Afghan students to study and pursue their careers in India.

Change in America’s approach –

President Trump has vowed to shift his country’s approach to dealing with Pakistan. He has promised to crack down on Pakistan’s safe havens of terrorist and militants. He said that the US gives Pakistan monetary and military aid, so it has to change its modus operandi immediately.

Signalling his intent to change America’s old Afghan policy by confirming that it can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s harbouring of terrorist organisations, the Taliban and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. He also saw the dangers of terrorists nourished by Pakistan against India.

Although he has not yet specified how many more troops would be sent to Afghanistan, congressional sources confirm that it could be about 4,000 more than the 8,500 U.S. service members currently in Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump laid out a strategy that included pressuring Pakistan to do more to stop terrorists from finding safe haven within its borders. He also said that India would play a greater role in providing economic and developmental support.

In a significant departure from the past the American President confirmed that US would prioritise American security over attempting to “dictate” to the Afghan people on “how to live”.

Conclusion –

President Trump’s approach is being attributed as “principled realism” which is in sync with his “America First”. India has to wait and watch the details of America’s policy because Trump’s view was only a broad principle outlined in the speech. India has been a de facto player in Afghanistan in developmental terms and we shall continue to sustain that pace, with or without America’s commitment to Afghanistan.