ORF-MLI workshop on Canada-India Partnership on Afghanistan

Nov 25, 2021

The Sappani Foundation supports public policy development to address challenges faced by humanity around the world. We focus on Canada and India, and support dialogue, research, and debate on how the two countries can work together. To that end, we support activities by two well-respected think-tanks – the Macdonald-Laurier Institute (MLI) based in Ottawa, Canada, and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) based in New Delhi, India.

The two think-tanks recently got together to discuss the events in Afghanistan and how Canada and India could cooperate on Afghanistan given their shared democratic values and concern for Afghanistan.

Event description (from YouTube):

For most of the 21st Century, Canadian troops had been present in Afghanistan, yet still, like much of the world, Canada was caught off guard by the Taliban’s seizure of control in the country. The Taliban takeover now threatens to overturn two decades of significant progress for Afghans, progress which has come at the cost of tremendous blood and treasure in Canada and among alliance members. Most worryingly, for our Afghan partners and allies, the present situation is one of constant and looming threats of lethal reprisals from the Pakistan-backed terrorist group which now governs from Kabul. But without substantial assets of its own in the region, Canada has few means to secure its interests and assist our allies.

Similarly, India has important ties, interests, and investments in Afghanistan. As the most critical regional partner for Afghanistan before the Taliban re-seized control, India has contributed greatly to humanitarian and development assistance, infrastructure investment, and much more. Better than most nations, New Delhi appreciates the pivotal destabilizing role played by Pakistan in terms of sheltering and aiding the Taliban, and India also sees more clearly than most the geostrategic opportunity that China intends to seize upon with the overthrow of Afghanistan’s democratically elected government. Yet the international community remains slow at recognizing the nature of these threats and the need to work with India to meet them.

So, beyond the obvious interests in Afghanistan from these shared investments into the peace and prosperity of the Afghan people, Canada and India find themselves in a position of mutual need and advantage. Canada is in need of a strong and likeminded regional partner to help secure its interests, and India is in need of greater international cooperation in staring down the dual threats posed by Pakistan and China. India is a major power near the doorstep to Central Asia, and Canada is a prominent member of NATO, G7, and other high-impact multilateral clubs; both countries have what the other country needs.

This MLI-ORF discussion aims to bridge the gap between Canada and India with respect to their shared interest in Afghanistan. Speakers from both sides of the Indo-Pacific will explore how Ottawa and New Delhi can work in closer cooperation with one another to pursue a strategy toward Afghanistan that can serve as a touchstone for future cooperation on a broad spectrum of international challenges.

You can see the full discussion here.