Afghanistan is located at the crossroads of Central, South and West Asia, sharing its borders with the Central Asian States of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan on the north, Chinese province of Xinjiang in the east, Iran on the west and south-west, and Pakistan and Pak-occupied territory of Kashmir on the south and south-east. Due to its strategic placement Afghanistan became the focal point of intense rivalry between Tsarist Russia and Britain during the nineteenth century. Afghanistan remained at the centre stage of international politics as a theatre in the cold war games of super powers with Pakistan acting as the frontline state of USA for channelling its financial, material and military supplies to the Afghan Mujahideen. Pakistan used this opportunity to divert part of these supplies to Indian border states of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, thereby promoting the Klashnikov culture, trans-border terrorism and religious extremism. In the post-cold war era, which has witnessed the demise of USSR and establishment of an Islamic state led by Mujahideen, Afghanistan has assumed importance due to its potential to influence the societies and politics in its bordering countries. This has amply been demonstrated by the events in Tajikistan. The Central Asian states and Russia have responded by denouncing the export of terrorism and Islamic extremism and by declaring the 'Inviolability of State Borders'. They have acted together to defend the Tajik-Afghan border. Fresh eruption of factional fighting in Afghanistan and shifting equations between the rival groups has once again brought this region in the spotlight of international attention.
Afghanistan's Position in Central and South Asia
It is in this backdrop that the Himalayan Research and Cultural Foundationhas devoted the first of its Occasional Paper Series exclusively to the study of Afghanistan's involvement in Central and South Asian politics and the challenges posed thereby to these states.
K. Warikoo provides an insight into the trans-border movements across the Tajik-Afghan border, export of Islamic militancy from Afghanistan to Central Asian states and the subsequent responses by these states and Russia to meet the new challenge.
Uma Singh examines the involvement of Pakistan in funnelling military and other supplies to Afghan Mujahideen and evaluates the negative results of the spread of klashnikov culture, drug trafficking and Afghan refugee problem on the society and politics in Pakistan.
A. K. Ray has with the support of documentary evidence exposed the role of Pakistan in manipulating Afghan Mujahideen and Islamist radicals in the ongoing terrorism in Kashmir.
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