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Need to factor in our 106km border with Afghanistan: NSA

India shares a 106-km border with Afghanistan which people do not factor in, national security advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval said on Friday, hinting both at India’s claim to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the threat that withdrawal of Nato forces from Afghanistan poses for internal security in India.

Speaking at a BSF function, Doval said the force should be prepared for the fallout (of Nato withdrawal) on this border and that India had a stake in ensuring Afghanistan remained peaceful and did not become an “epicenter of terrorism”.

Doval made the statements while delivering the Rustamji Memorial Lecture on ‘Challenges of Securing Our Borders’. While speaking on how border guarding forces needed to go beyond physical security, Doval said, “We have to plan and prepare for the future. We have got seven countries with which we share our border. We have six with which we directly share contiguous border. But we also have a 106-km-long non-contiguous border with Afghanistan that we need to factor in. With all these seven countries, we have very special and peculiar relationships and peculiar problems.”

If only the LoC is factored in and not the Indian claim on PoK, India does not share any border with Afghanistan. But Doval stressed that border guarding forces needed to factor in disturbances that may come to borders under their protection as a result of chaos in Afghanistan. Intelligence agencies have been fearing a spillover of terrorism into J&K following complete withdrawal of NATO forces and the chaos that is likely to follow.

Doval said, “Whatever happens in Afghanistan is going to affect India. We have to ensure that there is peace in the country and that it does not become an epicenter of terrorism.”

Curiously, only over a year ago, then deputy NSA Nehchal Sandhu had downplayed the threat of NATO withdrawal, saying groups in Afghanistan would focus on consolidating their position in the country and the Nato withdrawal would have no immediate impact on India.

Speaking on the sidelines of a function organized by National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC) in February 2014, Sandhu had told TOI, “There is nothing as yet to suggest that there will be a spillover of Afghan situation into India. After the withdrawal, the groups there will first try to take over Afghanistan rather than divert energy towards India. Groups look towards other regions only when security exerts pressure in their core areas.” (The Times of India)

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