Wednesday, February 19, 2014

After the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, then what? --- In talk, MIT professor examines the implications of the military drawdown for regional rivals India and Pakistan. --- After more than a decade of involvement, the U.S. has pledged to draw down its Afghanistan troops in 2014, a move with major security implications for both countries. The change will also have a direct impact on two other countries: India and Pakistan, whose regional rivalry has long complicated the situation in Afghanistan. -- But what exactly will that impact be, and how concerned should outsiders be that an altered Afghanistan will escalate India-Pakistan tensions? In a talk on Tuesday, an MIT political scientist outlined a scenario whose subtle dynamics might bode well for regional stability: Hard-line ideologues in Afghanistan may well gain influence, but if so, that could act as an outlet for the pressures that have built up between the countries. -- “I’m pessimistic about the future of Afghanistan, but I’m a little more optimistic about what this means for the India-Pakistan relationship,” Vipin Narang, an assistant professor of political science at MIT, said in his remarks. -- To be clear, Narang stated, the planned U.S. pullout will almost certainly lead to a renewed effort by India and Pakistan to exert more regional influence in Afghanistan. -- “The direct competition between India and Pakistan was held at bay with the U.S. invasion and presence of NATO forces the last 14 years,” Narang said, adding: “The drawdown will create a vacuum now where Pakistan and India, I think, re-engage in a more overt proxy competition and vie for influence in Afghanistan.” -- In asserting influence over Afghanistan, Narang observed, “Pakistan will probably have an advantage.” However, he added, greater Pakistani influence in Afghanistan does not constitute “an existential threat” to India, but could moderate Pakistani concerns over India’s regional ambitions: “To the extent that Pakistan is relieved of the [fear] that India will threaten it in Afghanistan, it can move forward” with normalizing its relationship with India. -- Narang’s talk, “The Impact of the U.S. Drawdown on India-Pakistan Relations,” was sponsored by MIT’s Security Studies Program, part of an ongoing series of events called, “After 2014: What Next for Central and South Asia?” - More, Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office, at:


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