Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s thoughts and actions are often at odds with each other. Having benefited thus far from non-military aid by India, which has come in the form of roads and highways, power transmission lines and health centres aimed towards bettering the lives of the Afghan people, he surprised New Delhi by presenting a wish list for military assistance.
The Indian authorities must consider this request carefully. Consenting to this could open up a new set of snags not least of which would be the worsening of its current equation with neighbours Pakistan and China. In truth, however, by asking for arms Karzai is indicating he isn’t so sure about how Afghanistan is going to cope once he leaves office next year and a new government is sworn in.
Elections would bring in a new regime, minus Karzai, and coincide with the exit of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), leaving the country open to a takeover bid by the Taliban and thereafter political jockeying in South Asia. Significantly, there seems to be no viable option, in terms of leadership, after him.
Karzai’s new agenda highlights the need for ISAF to re-emphasise the necessity for a tactical withdrawal. Billions of dollars in aid have not met their objective thanks to rampant corruption. It is time for the global community to ensure that the safety and security of the Afghan people is not compromised, yet again, without impacting the sovereignty of the nation.