President Trump has said that he would expect greater role by India in Afghanistan, even as the USA is involved in a protracted war in Afghanistan for many years now. Many American soldiers have lost their lives in Afghanistan, even as the end of the war in Afghanistan is nowhere in sight.
Obviously, Trump and US citizens want the USA to dominate the world by waging war in other countries, if necessary, to assert its position but would not want to lose its soldiers in the process.
Even as Trump has tried to please India by openly condemning Pakistan for harboring the terrorists and issuing a veiled threat to Pakistan about cutting US aid, it appears that Trump wants India to fight America’s war in Afghanistan as quid pro quo for its support to India’s war against terrorists operating from Pakistan soil.
Apparently, Trump knows that US citizens are not with him in committing US troops endlessly in Afghanistan, as US citizens grimly remember the massive loss of American lives in the past war in Vietnam and Korea. Trump’s approach appears to be to continue its war in Afghanistan and at the same time reducing gradually the number of US soldiers involved in the Afghan war. He can achieve this objective only if India would get itself militarily involved in the Afghan war against Taliban.
It remains to be seen whether Narendra Modi government, which is desperately needing full support from the USA in combating the military threat from Pakistan and China, will submit to President Trump’s wish (expressed discreetly) that India should enter Afghan war.
Modi government cannot be unaware of the fact that India getting involved in Afghan war will prove costly for India, given the Afghan ground conditions and the guerilla type of war carried out by Taliban.
India had an unpleasant experience earlier when it got itself militarily involved in the conflicts in Sri Lanka to fight the LTTE terrorists on the request of the Sri Lankan government. India paid a high price losing hundreds of Indian soldiers in a fruitless war that benefited neither India nor Sri Lanka in any significant manner.
The public opinion in India is unlikely to favor Indian military involvement in Afghanistan to help the USA, though India shares a mutual interest with the USA in defeating the terrorists in Afghanistan who are supporting terrorism in Kashmir in some way or the other.
The confrontation that India is having with Pakistan and China and the fact that several countries in Asia and India’s traditional ally Russia are remaining silent so far, without openly appreciating India’s stand is indeed forcing Indian government to think that it would be in India’s interest to forge strong alliance with the USA, which would be a deterrent for Pakistan and China But, what price India has to pay for getting US support is the moot question.
Narendra Modi government would know the expectations of President Trump and has a difficult choice to make.
India may try to get out of this predicament by stating that it has already invested considerably in economic and industrial cooperation with the Afghan government. President Trump knows this, and he wants much more.