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Cablegate: Indian Views On Afghanistan: Eager for Increased Usg Coordination, Wary of Pakistani Scheming, Skeptical On R/R

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FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9569
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RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMCSUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 8913
RUEHUNV/USMISSION UNVIE VIENNA 1860

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 000334

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/01/2020
TAGS: PREL IN PK AF IR

SUBJECT: INDIAN VIEWS ON AFGHANISTAN: EAGER FOR INCREASED USG COORDINATION, WARY OF PAKISTANI SCHEMING, SKEPTICAL ON R/R

REF: NEW DELHI 225 (INDIAN ACTIVITIES IN AFGHANISTAN)

Classified By: Political Counselor Uzra Zeya for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: In a February 22 meeting, YK Sinha -- India's A/S equivalent for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran -- welcomed increased GOI-USG coordination “at all levels” on our respective assistance activities in Afghanistan. He warned the USG not to be drawn into what he characterized as a Pakistani “game” of enlisting American support to “drive India out of Afghanistan” by presenting “fabricated” evidence of alleged Indian misdeeds in Afghanistan or the border areas. Sinha praised the Secretary's interventions regarding assistance to Afghan women during the January London Conference on Afghanistan, but expressed skepticism over reintegration/reconciliation efforts and claimed that Iran, Russia, and the Central Asian republics share similar doubts about the potential efficacy of such efforts. End Summary.

More Assistance Coordination
----------------------------

2. (C) Sinha told PolCouns that India welcomes increased coordination with the USG “at all levels, here and in Kabul” regarding assistance activities in Afghanistan “so that our respective interests are not undermined by Pakistan.” He proposed a meeting in the near future between Foreign Secretary Rao and the Ambassador as a useful step in this direction. PolCouns affirmed our keen interest in such coordination, as Afghanistan remains a top priority issue for USG visitors to India. Sinha described Indian assistance efforts as driven largely by the Indian Embassy in Kabul (reftel): “Delhi sets the broad parameters and provides oversight, but the Embassy in Kabul implements most assistance.” He identified the Indian DCM in Kabul as the GOI point person for Afghan assistance and encouraged U.S. Mission staff in Afghanistan to coordinate more closely with him.

3. (C) Sinha reminded PolCouns that he had previously broached the topic by “thinking out loud” about increased Indian training of Afghan security personnel, and claimed that U.S.-based think tanks and editorial writers were now advocating a greater security training role for India. He added that he understood this remains a sensitive topic for the USG, and stressed that India was not trying to get out in front on the issue, nor had it received such training requests from the Afghan government. PolCouns agreed that the topic is indeed a point of sensitivity for the USG, noting that in our view the overall costs of increased Indian security training outweigh the benefits. In response to PolCouns' encouraging focused Indian assistance on agriculture and education, Sinha noted India's announcement at the London Conference of 300 scholarships per year for the next 5 years for Afghans studying agriculture.

Beware of Pakistan's “Game”
---------------------------

4. (C) Sinha contended that “it is quite clear to India” that Pakistan views Afghanistan “as a zero sum game and they want India out of Afghanistan.” He stated that “we will not leave Afghanistan because we have strategic interests there.” Acknowledging that the USG “needs Pakistan for many things right now,” Sinha counseled that the USG beware of Pakistan's “game” of enlisting American support to “drive India out of Afghanistan.” He suggested that Islamabad would likely present USG officials with “fabricated” evidence of alleged Indian misbehavior in Afghanistan or the border areas, namely the FATA.

Doubts About R/R
----------------

5. (C) Sinha praised the Secretary's interventions regarding assistance to Afghan women during the January London Conference on Afghanistan, characterizing her remarks as among the most significant made at the Conference and lamenting that they were overshadowed in media coverage by focus on security issues. While he conceded that some form of reconciliation is necessary for the successful resolution of any armed conflict, Sinha expressed skepticism over prospects for Afghan-led reintegration/reconciliation efforts. PolCouns outlined the distinctions between reintegration and reconciliation in the Afghan context. Sinha claimed that Iran, Russia, and the Central Asian republics share similar doubt about the potential efficacy of such efforts. Sinha closed the discussion on Afghanistan by asserting that a precipitate U.S. exit would embolden “fanatics” to feel they had defeated both the USSR and the U.S., “and the result will be very bad for the region.”
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