Visit of Kazakhstan Delegation

Visit of Kazakhstan Delegation

ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION 10 MAY 2013
WITH KAZAKHSTAN DELEGATION

 

1. A round table discussion was held at USI of India on 10 May13 with a five member delegation from Kazakhstan led by Mr Maulen Ashimbayev, Chairman Committee on Defence Security and International Relations of the Lower House of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and USI scholars along with other distinguished and knowledgeable members of the Institution. The Director of USI, Lt Gen PK Singh welcomed all the participants and laid out the agenda for discussion. Mr Maulen Ashimbayev opened the discussion with his observations on Afghanistan. He flagged the following points in his opening remarks:

(a)  The situation in Afghanistan was being observed by many countries with differing viewpoints regarding the forthcoming Presidential elections and withdrawal of ISAF. Kazakhstan was interested in the stability and security of Afghanistan and opined that regional countries needed to contribute towards building Afghanistan. He complimented India on the important role and contributions made in Afghanistan such as investments in infrastructure and other social initiatives.

(b)  He highlighted the assistance provided by Kazakhstan to Afghanistan in building roads, bridges, schools and hospitals. US $ 50 million had been earmarked by Kazakhstan for providing education to Afghan citizens in Kazakh educational institutions. They were also investing in a Trust Fund for developing the Afghan Security Forces.

(c)  He emphasized the potential for collaboration between India and Kazakhstan in assisting Afghanistan and was happy to note that both the countries were working towards it.

2. In response, Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar (Retd) emphasised the following:

(a)  With the expanding contours of bilateral co-operation, relations between the two countries had grown in a robust manner in the last four years. The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan was the Guest of Honour at India’s 60th Republic Day Parade when strategic partnership agreements were signed, including a framework agreement in civil nuclear field and a stake-sharing accord in the oil sector. This had been followed up by visits by the Indian Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister to Kazakhstan.

(b)  There are numerous opportunities for both countries to expand on bilateral co-operation such as a North South transport corridor and oil pipe line from Kazakhstan to India.

(c)  Direct land connectivity was the biggest hurdle in developing trade and other bilateral ties. Peace and stability in Afghanistan would facilitate in overcoming this hurdle and would open up numerous opportunities. 

3.  Mr Doulat Kuanyshevm, Ambassador of Kazakhsyan to India agreed that land connectivity was a major area of concern. Till now, economic co-operation between the two countries had been between the two governments. Kazakhstan was keen on inviting the Indian private sector to invest and collaborate in trade. 

4.  On the topic of Afghanistan, Director USI identified the following issues:

(a)       A new President would be appointed shortly in Afghanistan. He would require time to settle down and take control. Therefore, the timing regarding the drawdown of American troops was inappropriate and it could have been delayed by a year.

(b)       President Karzai had recently announced that nine bases would be maintained by the US in Afghanistan post 2014. This implied that a large contingent of American troops would remain in Afghanistan post 2014. The international community should send a message that they were not deserting Afghanistan. Financial commitments needed to be made by the international community before the new President was elected to give a feeling of security to the people of Afghanistan.

5.  Other points that emerged during discussions were:

(a)       The nature and type of military support that US would provide to Afghanistan post 2014.

(b)       The Haquanni and other terrorist groups were conducting attacks in Kabul. At present the ANSF were performing well in providing security. However, they would be at a disadvantage while fighting the Taliban who were supported by Pakistan. The ANSF would require air and artillery support.

(c)        The citizens of Afghanistan want peace and free and fair elections which will strengthen democratic rule. They are committed to resisting the Taliban with whatever resources they have. The international community must support them.

(d)       Under President Karzai’s rule, there have been significant improvements in quality of life. The media had grown, mobile connectivity had increased and girls had starting attending schools. These improvements should continue.

(e)       Post 2014 after the drawdown, there are concerns regarding the economy of Afghanistan. With large numbers of foreign forces presently stationed in Afghanistan, substantial amount of money had been infused into Afghanistan, which may not be the case post 2014. Hence the need for an economic package for next five to ten years is imperative.

(f)         The CAR countries as also India and China are directly affected by the conditions in Afghanistan. Therefore, solutions need to be found by these countries and not just by US or NATO.

(g)       The outcome of elections in Pakistan will impact the situation in Afghanistan directly.

(h)        Dialogue with Taliban who have linkages to Al Qaeda, Haqani Network, LET etc, as a precursor to withdrawal of US troops is not advisable. Taliban represent a negative ideology and it professes jihad and repressive social conditions. If they are brought back into the mainstream, without any preconditions, then Afghanistan may revert to being a fundamental jihadi state.

6. The discussions concluded with an invitation from the Director USI to the delegation for more detailed discussions on the subject in the future.

 

 

 

Report compiled by Gp Capt AK Agarwal, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Strategic Studies and Simulation, USI.

 

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