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Indian Perspective on Afghanistan

Rita Manchanda

Edited by K.P. Misra
Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1981, pp. 150, Rs. 75.00

VOLUME V NUMBER 5 March/April 1981

Confronted with a host of· books on Afghanistan the overwhelmed reader needs to have good reason not to consign to unread oblivion yet another work on the subject. What distinguishes this selection of essays is their analytical presentation of an Indian perspective on the Afghan crisis and its implications for the region and the international system. With India having adopted a singular position on the Afghan question, the reflections of Indian academics on the various aspects of the crisis holds special interest. However, it is regrettable that in this selection, there is no sustained analysis of 'Iran and the Afghan crisis'. The security thesis that interprets the Soviet intervention of December 1979 as desig­ned to preempt imminent US military action in Iran, finds no mention in either Agwani or Damodaran's dismissal of the security dimension underlying the Soviet move. K. Bahadur in 'Pakistan's policy towards Afghanistan’ touches upon the implications of US military intervention in Iran, aimed ultimately at restoring the monarchy, in the wake of the hostage crisis, which he argues, left the Soviets with no other option than to intervene to save the revolutionary regime and protect their own security. The focus of the security concern, however, remains Afghanistan and not Iran, as in the pre­emptive thesis. Still on the Iranian connection, a lacunae is again conspicuous in the neg­lect of the role of Iran in the April 1978 Saur Revolution. Srivastava's assertion in 'The US and Recent Developments in Afghanistan', that the increasing close ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan/Iran, the two staunchest allies of the US, did untold damage to Daoud's relations with the Soviets, is wide off the mark. Unable to rid himself of the outdated bipolar perspective, he accentuates the US-SU opposition, failing to pursue the much more significant argument of the domestic backlash against the enormous increase in Iranian influence. In the wake of the 1977 Pakistan-Afghanistan accord under Iranian auspices, not only did Iranian influence phenomenally ex­pand but there was also the spawning of inter-linkages, it is reported, between the Iranian intelligence service SAVAK and its Afghan counterpart. The Shah, it is believed, was no stranger to the assassination of the editor Khaiber or the ar­rests of Taraki and other Communist leaders, that precipitated the Saur revolution. Agwani, in 'The Saur Revolution and After' also eschews all consideration of the Iranian role in what is otherwise a very balanced presentation ...

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