The Afghanistan factor in India's approach to central Asia

The Afghanistan factor in India's approach to central Asia

Over the past decade, India has stepped up its efforts to reach out to the Central Asian Republics (CARs). New Delhi's approach to the region has been shaped, in part, by its interests in Afghanistan. Given the geographical location of the CARs (especially Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) and the convergence of objectives vis-à-vis Afghanistan, greater engagement with these countries is crucial to India's Afghan policy. India's 'Connect Central Asia' policy, announced in June 2012, can also be viewed in the context of the impending drawdown of foreign forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Given these strategic imperatives, a greater engagement with CARs is crucial for India's interests in Afghanistan.

This Issue Brief seeks to examine the Afghanistan factor in India-Central Asia relations.

This Issue Brief concludes that:

  • Afghanistan can be seen both as an enabler for India's objectives vis-a-vis Central Asia as well as an avenue for cooperation between India and the CARs
  • future uncertainties about the security and political transition in Afghanistan do impede its transit potential at the moment
  • notwithstanding the lack of political will among the CARs to increase their involvement with Afghanistan, given their strategic location, they cannot be completely immune to developments in Afghanistan