India’s relations with Afghanistan

Authored by: Raghav Sharma

Handbook of India’s International Relations

Print publication date:  May  2011
Online publication date:  May  2011

Print ISBN: 9781857435528
eBook ISBN: 9780203828861
Adobe ISBN:


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The camaraderie that characterizes India-Afghanistan relations both at the political and popular level is not merely a product of modern geopolitics but is also a testimony to the historico-cultural linkages that have existed between Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent since ancient times. 1 The partition of British India in 1947 ruptured India’s geographical contiguity with Afghanistan, but not the warmth that characterized their relations; this stood in sharp contrast to Pakistan, which, in spite of its geographical contiguity as well as religious and ethnic congruity, has seen its relations with Kabul for most of its history being clouded by bitterness and a deep sense of distrust. India’s role in Afghanistan has re-emerged into importance not just for Afghanistan and the region, but also as ‘a test case for a rising power’—India. 2 Afghanistan’s importance for India and others is largely geopolitical, as Afghanistan faces southwards down from the Hindu Kush into the Indian subcontinent, India’s immediate neighbourhood. Yet it also looks northwards down from the Hindu Kush into India’s extended neighbourhood, in which ‘Afghanistan is the fractious gateway to and from Central Asia, which defines the way other powers grapple and circumvent the complexities of the region’, as well as being part of what has been called the ‘Greater Middle East’. 3

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