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International Security, Afghanistan and 2014: Seeds of Instability

D. Suba Chandran

By Hiranmay Karlekar
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 395, Rs. 495.00


There has been a plethora of books on Afghanistan in the last few years; un-fortunately, most of them have been written by Europeans and Americans. Hiranmay Karlekar’s work on Afghanistan is perhaps one of the few Indian in-depth analyses on contemporary Afghanistan. Despite the high rhetoric in India about the cultural and historical linkages with Kabul, there have not been many analyses either on the present or the future of Afghanistan, from an Indian perspective. Karlekar fills this void.   Karlekar begins with eleven significant events that took place while he was writing the book that would have an implication for the endgame in Afghanistan. Less than a year since the book was published, if we have to ask the author about whether he will stick to his ‘significant eleven’ or add/subtract other developments, perhaps the answer will be different. Undoubtedly, writing about contemporary Afghanistan and predicting the endgame will never be an easy task; Karlekar needs to be congratulated for courageously picking up this assignment.   Karlekar starts with the killing of Osama bin Laden and the American elation. This is an important question we need to assess. What is likely to be the implication of Osama’s killing for the Afghan Endgame? Does this in any way significantly change the nature of the game in Afghanistan, and its results? Or does it just provide a face saver for the American troops to leave? Are there other serious factors that need to be considered in the Endgame beyond Osama and al Qaeda?   More than the al Qaeda, the Taliban is the main issue in Afghanistan today; dialogue with the Taliban seems to be a primary thrust of the American strategy today. As Karlekar writes, for any success in such a strategy, the US would need Pakistan’s active support, and he rightly identifies this as a problem. Karlekar in fact expands the primary issue in this context: it is not just a question of al Qaeda and the Taliban. Will Pakistan genuinely act against organizations like the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad (Jem) and Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) which, spawned by its premier intelligence organization, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, function unhindered despite being banned? The question that Karlekar raises will remain crucial for the endgame in Afghanistan, for one is linked with the other.   Another question that Karlekar asks is about the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and its effectiveness post-2014. ...

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