Global Affairs Desk

Tue Jun 18 2024

Mandala Effect- India, Pakistan and Afghanistan

~ By Samidha Jain on 4/27/2023

Mandala Effect- India, Pakistan and Afghanistan

Foreign Policy and Diplomacy is a dynamic subject which comes when two cardinal disciplines, History and Politics are conjoined. And as dynamic and crucial the subject is, understanding it as easy if we connect the dots and first clear our basics. The first evidence of diplomacy in history dates back to 2300 BC Mesopotamia, when a peace treaty between the Ebla King of Syria and the King of Assyrians was signed. The concept of “Divine Rule” was a pillar in the official diplomacy of that time.

In India, Chanakya’s Arthashastra till date remains an important treatise on State and diplomacy. It emphasizes on self-interest (national-interest in modern times) and alliance formation.

Mandala Effect

Arthashastra also brings in light the Mandala Effect in foreign policy. According to this theory, a state’s immediate neighbor will be an enemy and its immediate neighbor would be an ally. This theory in simple words states how an enemy’s enemy is our friend. It helps us in understanding the modus operandi of our neighbors and in making a suitable foreign policy. Let’s try to prove this theory with examples.

Indo-Pakistan and Indo- Afghanistan relations

Pakistan and India are immediate neighbors and rivals. The bones of contention between them are endless and never ending. The major bones of contention are the disputed territories of Kashmir, Sir Creek and the Siachen Glacier. Some other issues include, sharing river waters, suspicion regarding the activities of the Defense Intelligence (ISI AND RAW) of both the countries and cross-border terrorism. They have also fought four wars in 1947 because of Kashmir, 1965 on the western and northern borders, 1971 due to the breaking away of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh and in 1999 in Kargil. Pakistan and Afghanistan are immediate neighbors and rivals. Whereas, India and Afghanistan share comparatively better relations. David Malone pungently observes, ‘psychologically, India and Afghanistan think of each other as neighbors and friends. Their positive relationship deriving added saliency from the difficulties each has experienced with Pakistan.’

Afghanistan and Pakistan themselves have border disputes in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa along the Durand line. Not only that, cross border terrorism especially with Taliban coming to power again is a bone of contention. Islamabad fears and resents the growing bond between India and Pakistan. India is concerned with Pakistan and its ISI supporting Taliban especially in the pretext of US letting Pakistan piggy-back on them.

US, in 1979 to counter Soviets had supported mujahdeens for the downfall of the Soviet installed Babrak Kamal government. But when Al Qaeda, an offshoot terrorist organization of mujahdeens attacked the US, it toppled the mujahdeen government. This shows the interference of US in Asian politics and especially with Taliban coming back to power in August, 2021 it becomes a prime issue for us to maintain warm relations with Afghanistan for national security.

India and Afghanistan’s cordial relations

In 2001, after the Bonn-1 conference, India immediately increased its engagement with Afghanistan, India decided to deepen its engagement by opening consulates in Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, Kandhar and Jalalabad.

Four pillars support Indo-Afghan relations – infrastructure projects, humanitarian assistance, small and community-based development projects, and education and capacity development.
India has been an all-weather friend of Afghanistan. We have invested over $10.8 billion which includes setting up Iron ore mines and a steel plant. We have also made multiple transmission lines bringing the Uzbek electricity to light up Kabul. In 2009, we donated 2,50,000 metric tones wheat during food shortage. India also constructed a new Parliament complex worth 710 crores.

India-Pakistan- Afghanistan relations are thus a perfect example to prove the Mandala Effect. Another trio which comes to my mind is Pakistan-India-China. With India having hostile relations with both Pakistan and China whereas the two of them having a brotherly relation.

| Comments - (1)

Ankur JainCommented on 6/13/2023

This is a new and absolutely crisp information for me. This is amazing analysis. Thanks for sharing Samidha.