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An eminent historian looks to the present and future of Afghanistan as the U.S. withdraws from the longest war in its history. THE BROOKINGS ESSAY: In the spirit of its commitment to high-quality, independent research, the Brookings Institution has commissioned works on major topics of public policy by distinguished authors, including Brookings scholars. The Brookings Essay An eminent historian looks to the present and future of Afghanistan as the U.S. withdraws from the longest war in its history. THE BROOKINGS ESSAY: In the spirit of its commitment to high-quality, independent research, the Brookings Institution has commissioned works on major topics of public policy by distinguished authors, including Brookings scholars. The Brookings Essay is a multi-platform product aimed to engage readers in open dialogue and debate. The views expressed, however, are solely those of the author.


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An eminent historian looks to the present and future of Afghanistan as the U.S. withdraws from the longest war in its history. THE BROOKINGS ESSAY: In the spirit of its commitment to high-quality, independent research, the Brookings Institution has commissioned works on major topics of public policy by distinguished authors, including Brookings scholars. The Brookings Essay An eminent historian looks to the present and future of Afghanistan as the U.S. withdraws from the longest war in its history. THE BROOKINGS ESSAY: In the spirit of its commitment to high-quality, independent research, the Brookings Institution has commissioned works on major topics of public policy by distinguished authors, including Brookings scholars. The Brookings Essay is a multi-platform product aimed to engage readers in open dialogue and debate. The views expressed, however, are solely those of the author.

30 review for A Deadly Triangle: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India

  1. 4 out of 5

    Will Byrnes

    GR pal Wanda recommended this one to me (Thanks, Wanda) It is not a book, but an article, so I was able to cruise through it in a sitting while still managing to get my actual paying-job-work done. It is an outstanding, incisive and detailed look at current, historical and potential issues centering on Afghanistan once NATO vacates. It is rich with not-at-all-obvious information (for example, China's interest in mining Afghani minerals, Karzai's relationship with Pashtuns) and definitely will sm GR pal Wanda recommended this one to me (Thanks, Wanda) It is not a book, but an article, so I was able to cruise through it in a sitting while still managing to get my actual paying-job-work done. It is an outstanding, incisive and detailed look at current, historical and potential issues centering on Afghanistan once NATO vacates. It is rich with not-at-all-obvious information (for example, China's interest in mining Afghani minerals, Karzai's relationship with Pashtuns) and definitely will smarten your sense of what the area is all about. If you have a little spare time, I would give it a go. It is very readable. It is must-read stuff for anyone interested in the politics of the region. You can find it on-line here William Dalrymple - from his Twitter page Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages posted 4/25/14

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ed

    William Dalrymple knows his subject from the inside—at least as inside as a western writer is able. He lives in India and is proud that his books sell well in the subcontinent. His mastery of the sources and familiarity with both the broad sweep of history and the details of people and places is clear on every page of his essay. If “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing” he would, based on this book alone, be an archetypal hedgehog, one who views the world through the l William Dalrymple knows his subject from the inside—at least as inside as a western writer is able. He lives in India and is proud that his books sell well in the subcontinent. His mastery of the sources and familiarity with both the broad sweep of history and the details of people and places is clear on every page of his essay. If “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing” he would, based on this book alone, be an archetypal hedgehog, one who views the world through the lens of a single defining idea, in this case that the decades long involvement of Pakistan’s military and intelligence services in Afghanistan—an involvement that predated the American war in Afghanistan and that will continue after U.S. troops have left—is part of the Pakistan’s fear of and hatred of India. The calamitous defeat in the 1971 war, when the Indian military crushed Pakistan leading to (as viewed from Islamabad) the dismemberment of their country and the ‘loss’ of East Pakistan gave birth to the doctrine of “strategic depth”. Facing an enemy with eight times its population and an army eight times as large, Pakistani generals decided they had to have good relations with Afghanistan as a secure refuge in case of further war with their giant neighbor. The Taliban was the perfect ally—they were ferociously anti-Indian, implacable and merciless fighters with commanders willing to accept appalling butcher’s bills and soldiers willing to fight to the death. The jihadis were a cheap, effective and ultimately deniable means of dominating Afghanistan but now that the Taliban in Pakistan has turned against its host and long-time supporter culminating with the slaughter of over 140 students at a Peshawar school for the children of Pakistani military officers. However, the existential threat of India still takes precedence over all other political, military and economic goals for the Pakistan armed forces, even though it is clear that the real threat to stability and the very continued existence of Pakistan as a viable state is now from within, from the jihadi groups created by its intelligence services. Dalrymple is clear, convincing and writes with authority. “A Deadly Triangle” is recommended to those with an interest in the politics and politics by other means of the subcontinent.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ashish Iyer

    Okayish essay. I knew most of things author has mentioned here. It was like a revision for me. Its outdated now, its need to be updated. Since 2014, India relation with Afghanistan have improved at new level.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    25 APR 2014 -- read early this morning in the midst of battling the insomnia beast. Anyway, this is one of the most interesting essays I have read regarding this area. At 29 pages, you are able to read the essay in one sitting. What you gain from that reading, will last much longer. Highly recommended. P.S. When I get to the big-girl computer this evening, I will place an appropriate book cover to this essay. It is the same as the GRAmazon Kindle edition, but I cannot place Kindle in my library n 25 APR 2014 -- read early this morning in the midst of battling the insomnia beast. Anyway, this is one of the most interesting essays I have read regarding this area. At 29 pages, you are able to read the essay in one sitting. What you gain from that reading, will last much longer. Highly recommended. P.S. When I get to the big-girl computer this evening, I will place an appropriate book cover to this essay. It is the same as the GRAmazon Kindle edition, but I cannot place Kindle in my library nor am I able to abide that darned G cover - ugly. Will fix!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mayank Chawla

    A much needed essay comes from the eminent historian @DalrympleWill at a time when the entire region is looking forward, with much anxiety, towards the withdrawal of American and NATO forces this year and the ramifications thereafter. What exactly is going to happen, nobody knows but one thing is sure that whatever is going to happen it is going to have consequences, not for the region or the players involved, but for the entire world. The essay fills in necessary information to back the analysi A much needed essay comes from the eminent historian @DalrympleWill at a time when the entire region is looking forward, with much anxiety, towards the withdrawal of American and NATO forces this year and the ramifications thereafter. What exactly is going to happen, nobody knows but one thing is sure that whatever is going to happen it is going to have consequences, not for the region or the players involved, but for the entire world. The essay fills in necessary information to back the analysis concerning the future of all the countries of The Deadly Triangle. The changes that are taking place are in fact so rapid, that it leaves nothing but gamble dotting the course of foreign policies that India and Pakistan are going to follow. The withdrawal of American and NATO forces, the change of the Karzai's government, coming of Modi government in India, signals of another internal conflict in Pakistan, the rise of Taliban, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan and most of all, the presence of China in Afghanistan. All of these are going to have their own effect in the geopolitics of the region in the time to come. It has led everyone to be tightly bounded to their own positions and forced them to wait to see where exactly the situation takes them to. As we quickly reach towards the designated time, one thing is for sure, it will take a major review of polices of countries involved and a fresh look at the situation, in order to defend the respective interests. India has and is investing a lot in Afghanistan since a long time. And although 76% of Afghans have favorable view of India, it is still not much to neutralize Pakistan's aim of creating "strategic depth", a policy that it is surely not going to abandon, even if they choose to distance itself from it for the time till its internal situation stabilizes. One the other hand, the presence of China( even though it is still a business enterprise there but nevertheless they will influence the politics in the time to come) neutralizes Indian interests and the Indian policy to contain Pakistan from creating any misdeeds against its soil. I fear that Afghanistan may not become again another platform for proxy wars, this time even China getting involved in it. India only wants peace in the region and it is only investing in Afghanistan for this sole aim. As the author rightly pointed out that India is and never was any threat for Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity. India, as the world knows, is a peace loving country and the history is evident that it has gone to war only when the war has been thrusted upon it. This is the most crucial point that Pakistan Army must understand and internalize, for if they continue to follow the same policy what they have been following till now, it is never ending war. And Afghans too must pay heed to where they are heading to. India would be very happy to leave Afghanistan to their own if it form itself into a stable, democratic and progressive country. Why do they even allow an "expansionist" China to muddle into their waters? Why cant they unite to have a stable polity at the center? Is Afghanistan has all remained to be a playground for proxy wars for a country like Pakistan or historically the Soviet Union or the US to use their population for their own interests and then throw them at will? Afghanistan was once a very progressive country. Now as the chapter of the American war( or whatever it was) against terrorism draws to a close, Afghans must look within and ardently realize that nobody is a friend in the international politics, that they must save their own home first, otherwise they will be continued to be abused for generations to come. And lastly, Pakistan must understand that India is not and never will be a threat for them. The sooner they realize it, the better it will be for them. Being a large country and now a major player in international arena ,India may have a bit louder voice in the geopolitical region, but that does not mean that it is going to dictate the internal politics of any country. India loves democracy and respects sovereignty of any country and is firmly committed to it and only wants friendly ties and thriving trade with its neighbors so that prosperity abounds the region. I hope that not only the region but the world realizes this soon.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Farhan Khalid

    To defend themselves, Pakistani planners long ago developed a doctrine of strategic depth. The idea had its origins in the debacle of 1971 According to the Pakistanis’ narrative, the dismemberment of their country—which they blame on India—made it all the more important to develop and maintain friendly relations with Afghanistan The Afghan government be a close ally of Pakistan, and willing to help fight India. When the Taliban were in power, they were seen as the perfect partner for the Pakistani To defend themselves, Pakistani planners long ago developed a doctrine of strategic depth. The idea had its origins in the debacle of 1971 According to the Pakistanis’ narrative, the dismemberment of their country—which they blame on India—made it all the more important to develop and maintain friendly relations with Afghanistan The Afghan government be a close ally of Pakistan, and willing to help fight India. When the Taliban were in power, they were seen as the perfect partner for the Pakistani military After the Taliban were ousted by the U.S after 9/11, a major strategic shift occurred: the government of Afghanistan became an ally of India's, thus fulfilling the Pakistanis’ worst fear For the Pakistani military, the existential threat posed by India has taken precedence over all other geopolitical and economic goals The Pakistani military has relied on asymmetric warfare— using jihadi fighters for its own ends The Pakistanis have kept much of the Indian army bogged down in Kashmir ever since the separatist insurgency broke out in 1990 There are clearly those in the army who are now alarmed at the amount of sectarian and political violence the jihadis have brought to Pakistan ISI continues to believe that the jihadis are a more practical defense against Indian hegemony than even nuclear weapons. For them, support for carefully chosen jihadis in Afghanistan is a vital survival strategy well worth the risk The origins of the Indian-Pakistani rivalry in Afghanistan date back to Partition in 1947. As the British walked away from their Indian Empire in the aftermath of the Second World War, they divided up their former colony between Hindu-majority India and overwhelmingly Muslim Pakistan It was in that context that Kashmir became a thorn in the side of both countries. The fate of what had been, under the Raj, the princely state of Kashmir, became an anomaly of Partition. With its large Muslim majority, Kashmir was an obvious candidate to join Pakistan. But the pro-Indian sympathies of both its Hindu maharajah and its pre-eminent Muslim politician, Sheikh Abdullah, as well as the Kashmiri origins of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, led to the state's remaining part of India, which Pakistan has always regarded as unacceptable It was in Kashmir in 1947 that Pakistan first used irregular tribal fighters to try to get its way, sending Pashtun tribesmen over the border to march toward Srinagar By the terms of a ceasefire signed on January 1, 1949, Kashmir was effectively divided between India and Pakistan. The two countries would go on to fight another war over Kashmir in 1965, and it has remained a cause of conflict ever since Afghanistan also had an uneasy relationship with the Land of the Pure (Pakistan) As with India, borders and territory were in dispute. Afghan leaders had never accepted the Durand line that the British drew in 1893 and, after Partition, Afghanistan was not about to recognize that line as its border with Pakistan. The Afghan king, Zahir Shah, was especially keen to regain Peshawar, in a valley at the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, which had once been the summer capital of the Afghan empire. It had been in British hands since 1845, and was now to become part of Pakistan. To this day most Afghans look on Peshawar as a lost Afghan city It was only the pressure of growing Soviet influence in Afghanistan in the 1970s that forced the Afghan government to improve its relations with Pakistan Throughout the 1980s India expanded its influence in Afghanistan, contributing to an ambitious series of development projects Pakistan meanwhile began to arm the mujahedin who fought the Soviet occupation. Their recruitment was always controlled by the ISI, but was originally also funded by the Saudis and the CIA ISI: The Kashmiri people have risen up in accordance with the UN charter, and it is the national purpose of Pakistan to help liberate them India began its support of the Northern Alliance under the command of Ahmad Shah Massoud Taliban rule (1994 - 2001) –– Afghanistan quickly became the base for a whole spectrum of anti-Indian groups Musharraf's support for the U.S. reversed a decade of Pakistani foreign policy. He embraced President George W. Bush's Global War on Terror Only months after 9/11, the ISI was providing refuge to the entire Taliban leadership India made wise use of its opportunity to forge a close partnership with Afghanistan India has built roads linking Afghanistan with Iran so that Afghanistan's trade can reach the Persian Gulf at the port of Chabahar Many have come to believe India is using its Afghan consulates to foment insurgency in Baluchistan The danger posed by the jihadis—not just to India, but to Pakistan as well—is increasingly clear to all British diplomats in Islamabad take the view that because the Pakistani army now fears jihadi-generated instability more than it fears India it really has changed its attitude toward the jihadis General Kayani told American military officer that if Afghanistan deteriorated into chaotic civil war after the Americans leave, it would be bad for Afghanistan but a disaster for Pakistan China now has very considerable mineral assets in Afghanistan It will expect Pakistan to protect its interests and not allow the Taliban to disrupt these operations in Afghanistan Nawaz Sharif has the clarity of vision but the political will and the room to maneuver in that direction is an open question The future will be brighter for all three countries caught in a deadly triangle of mutual mistrust and competition if Pakistan and India can come to see the instability of Afghanistan as a common challenge to be jointly managed

  7. 4 out of 5

    Santosh Shetty

    William Dalrymple is excellent as always in his coverage. However, for an Indian or India watcher most of the stuff is known predominantly but his take from the Pakistan side is refreshing. Post Karzai under Ghani (a Pashtun) Afghanistan is still status quo with US recognizes India's crucial role in the country. There has been an escalation of violence against Afghan forces, a dispute over exchange of prisoners, the political crisis in Afghanistan wherein the officially declared President Mr Gha William Dalrymple is excellent as always in his coverage. However, for an Indian or India watcher most of the stuff is known predominantly but his take from the Pakistan side is refreshing. Post Karzai under Ghani (a Pashtun) Afghanistan is still status quo with US recognizes India's crucial role in the country. There has been an escalation of violence against Afghan forces, a dispute over exchange of prisoners, the political crisis in Afghanistan wherein the officially declared President Mr Ghani is facing a challenge from Mr Abdullah. US troops brokered peace agreement with Taliban is yet to come to fruition and will be a while before US troops actually leave.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Arnav Abbey

    Highly informative. The amount of research that has gone into this document is exceptional.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bhargav Golla

    I should start the review saying that I'm totally at odds with the author's representation of Jammu and Kashmir in a map and the way it exaggerated the area of Pakistan occupied Kashmir and China occupied Kashmir. It should've highlighted the both as disputed territories and stuck to the facts there. But surprisingly, Kashmir isn't the primary point of discussion of the essay and so this can be forgotten. That said, the essay expresses some interesting facts about world countries' relations with I should start the review saying that I'm totally at odds with the author's representation of Jammu and Kashmir in a map and the way it exaggerated the area of Pakistan occupied Kashmir and China occupied Kashmir. It should've highlighted the both as disputed territories and stuck to the facts there. But surprisingly, Kashmir isn't the primary point of discussion of the essay and so this can be forgotten. That said, the essay expresses some interesting facts about world countries' relations with Afghanistan and how this is affecting relation between India and Pakistan. It is always surprising to know how one's investments to further their own interests can go terribly wrong. It also highlights how paranoia is the reason for state sponsored jihad movement. May be it's too much to ask but, I felt that there should've been more space spent on what the heads of states of India and Pakistan are doing, are they trying to come to terms or are they being more and more competitive? It ended on a right note suggesting that India and Pakistan should both work in tandem towards betterment of their neighbor.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shubhi Agarwal

    A highly informative essay about the strained relationship between the three neighbours. A must read for anyone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Anushree Rastogi

    The new Great Game. Wonderfully described.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Zach

  13. 4 out of 5

    David Daly

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paula

  15. 5 out of 5

    Shelly Jose

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marcus End

  17. 4 out of 5

    Smita Murthy

  18. 5 out of 5

    harsh nimaiyar

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ranjan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Zseera

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sai Kishore

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amar Baines

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mahimna Bhagwat

  25. 5 out of 5

    Frank Venum

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shiv Shankar Mehra

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hari Narayan Nair

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mohammad Rifat Haider

  29. 5 out of 5

    Maliha Raza

  30. 4 out of 5

    Adarsh sharma

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