Call Hagel “right on the money” for saying Afghanistan is India’s “second front” against Pakistan
(SACRAMENTO, March 8, 2013) Recently revealed remarks made by newly confirmed US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggest India’s involvement in Afghanistan is part of a wider strategy to secretly destabilize Pakistan. Hagel’s comments, made in a 2011 speech at Cameron University in Oklahoma, are earning him praise from Sikh-Americans.
In the speech, Hagel said: “India … has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side…. The tense, fragmented relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been there for many, many years.”
Elaborating on Hagel’s assertion, Bhajan Singh Bhinder of US-based NPO Sikh Information Centre said, “If India’s policy of promoting domestic terror is to be used as a yardstick, then Hagel is right on the money. He clearly recognizes historical realities. Afghanistan was the only country to oppose Pakistan’s membership in the United Nations. India is encouraging continued tension because it sees influence in Afghanistan as a hedge against Pakistan. The underlying philosophical purpose is that Afghanistan was once ruled by Brahmins, who still fantasize about restoring both Pakistan and Afghanistan to the fabled akhand Bharat.”
Afghanistan was indeed controlled by the Brahmin Shahi dynasty until its Muslim conquest in the 11th century. Proponents of Hindutva (an ideology viewing non-Hindus as foreign to Hindu) like senior BJP leader LK Advani advocate creation of “akhand Bharat,” an undivided India uniting Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Afghanistan.
Former US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott dealt extensively with Advani in the late 1990s. Talbott records in his autobiography how Advani “mused aloud” about reuniting Pakistan and other Indian neighbors into a “single South Asian ‘confederation.'” Talbott says Advani was not alone in his views, writing: “Many Indians … regarded the idea of Pakistan not just a mistake but as an insult to the idea of India.” In his own autobiography, Advani declared: “Sindhi Hindus … still cannot accept the absurdity of Sindh’s separation from India.” Sindh, Advani’s birthplace, is Pakistan’s second most populous province.
In 2009, then NATO commander General Stanley McChrystal warned “increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions and encourage Pakistani countermeasures in Afghanistan or India.” With strong US encouragement, India has poured over $1.5 billion USD into Afghanistan’s infrastructure since 2001. Former Indian ambassador to the US Lalit Mansingh recently cited the financial aid as reason for India to be given broader control of Afghanistan after US troop withdrawal in 2014, protesting: “The peace plan seems to give primacy to Pakistan’s role and nothing to India despite the fact that India has invested a good deal of money for aid and reconstruction in Afghanistan.”
“India’s support for Afghanistan is based not in neighborly love,” said Bhinder, “but in a Hindutva strategy for creating the undivided India yearned for by upper castes. They have no qualms about funding and instigating violence to achieve that goal. These malicious tactics were used in 2007 when the Samjhauta Express was bombed by Hindu terrorists just one day before Indo-Pakistani peace talks about Kashmir. Before that, we saw the same tactics in Chittisinghpura, Kashmir in 2000 when Indian soldiers massacred 35 innocent Sikhs before kidnapping five innocent Muslims, killing them in a false encounter, and blaming them for the massacre. In 1982, Indian State agents used the same pattern to spark sectarian conflict between Hindus and Sikhs by planting severed cow heads at a Hindu temple in Amritsar.”
In November 2008, Lieutenant Colonel Shrikant Prasand Purohit, an actively serving Indian Army intelligence officer, was arrested for a September 2008 bombing in Malegaon, Maharashtra which killed seven. Mumbai’s Antiterrorism Squad leader Hemant Karkare, the arresting officer, swiftly also tied Purohit to the February 2007 bombing of Samjhauta Express, which killed 68. Both attacks were perpetrated under the auspices of Abhinav Bharat, a group Purohit founded in 2007 for “propagating a Hindu Rashtra [nation].”
Karkare’s investigation additionally linked Purohit to Indian Army Colonel S. S. Raikar, commandant of the Bhonsala Military School, where Army and Intelligence Bureau officers provided weapons training and RDX explosives to Hindu supremacists. Purohit was additionally implicated in the 2007-08 killings of Adivasi Christians by Hindu rioters in Karnataka and Odisha.
On November 24, Karkare further identified Pravin Togadia, General Secretary of the VHP, a Hindu supremacist group, as a funding source of Abhinav Bharat. The following day, Karkare was murdered in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Subsequently, the ATS dropped its investigation of Hindu supremacist terror ties.
Bhinder continued: “Minorities in India such as Adivasis, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, and Sikhs are used as pawns in the Brahminist’s expansionist agenda. Their strategy is a complex one of subterfuge, misdirection, and false flag attacks to create division, destabilize society, pit one minority group against another, and justify draconian suppression, including violence against Pakistan and neighboring countries. That’s why we are so proud of Secretary Hagel’s role as a truth-teller in recognizing and calling out India’s similar power play in Afghanistan. We hope he continues to pursue the truth.”