‘India, Russia, China should aid Afghan stability’

New Delhi, Feb 14: India, Russia and China are key regional players in Afghanistan and need to cooperate to stabilise the situation post the withdrawal of NATO troops, strategy experts said Friday.

The experts from India and Russia, linked by a Ria Novosti news agency-organised video conference between Moscow and here, said cooperation between these three countries, and with others in the region, on Afghanistan was vital to ward off the chaos and instability resulting from the eventual withdrawal of NATO forces.

“India, Russia and China are most important countries in the Afghan situation. They have to cooperate, along with other countries in the region to help Afghan reconstruction,” said Lt. General (retired) R.K. Sawhney, who has visited Afghanistan various times.

“If Afghanistan implodes, all these countries are bound to be quite affected,” he added.

India, China and Russia held trilateral consultations in Beijing last month to coordinate their views on the situation in Afghanistan in the lead-up to the withdrawal of NATO forces. Cooperation between the three powers on Afghanistan has been growing since 2013.

China has brought up the Afghann situation in the Shanghai Cooperation Oraganization (SCO), where Russia is a member and India and Pakistan have observer status.

“Certain forms of cooperation on Afghanistan can be discussed at the SCO forum,” said Vladimir Sotnikov of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“India and Russia have nothing to compete over Afghanistan. They need to develop a strategic dialogue at both experts as weel as intergovernmental levels on Afghanistan and the central Asian,” he added indicating the Russia was worried about Afghan instability impacting on the central Asian republics like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

All three powers have an important stake in Afghan stability and want to see a turbulence-free presidential election slated for April. China has invested over $3 billion in Afghanistan, and India more than $2 billion.

The United States had not achieved its Afghanistan security objectives, said another Russian analyst.

“Anti-(Afghanistan President) Karzai and anti-government forces continue to operate. They control about a fourth of the country and threaten even beyond,” said Andrei Kazantsev, director at Moscow’s Institute of International Studies.

Praising the Afghan National Army (ANA) for its efforts in reasonably securing the country’s borders over the last year, Sahney said continuing financial and military assistance would remove the grounds for pessimism about the future post the withdrawal of the 84,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

The Indian Army provided training to more than 500 ANA personnel in 2012-13 and plans to train 1,050 more in its different establishments in 2013-14.