The Skeptics

Great Gaming America

During his two-day visit to Kabul, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai he supports peace efforts with the Taliban and that India is Afghanistan’s “neighbor and partner in development.”

A significant barrier to stabilizing Afghanistan has been Pakistan’s efforts to thwart India’s deepening involvement. Since 2001, New Delhi has given the government of Afghanistan more than $2 billion in humanitarian and development assistance, making it that country’s fifth-largest donor. The Indians are constructing everything from schools, wells, roads and other infrastructure to satellite transmitters and a new parliament building in Kabul. Paradoxically, such highly visible efforts could threaten the long-term viability of any government in Kabul that New Delhi supports.

While the United States has a long-term policy of engagement with India, this will likely make Pakistan less inclined to cooperate with the United States in the short-term. Thus, while many in Washington support an alliance of the world’s largest democracies, and it would certainly be mutually advantageous, few people have gamed out what that will mean in terms of more immediate interests.