Publication Type:

Conference papers


Raphael Susewind


Third Global International Studies Conference, August 17-20, Porto (2011)


India intervenes in Afghanistan to fight global terrorism and to project itself as a responsible partner in world politics – so far the official narrative. India also in- tervenes in Afghanistan to encircle Pakistan and to thwart its arch enemy’s longing for “strategic depth” in West Asia – the most frequent scholarly interpretation. Both accounts of Indo-Afghan dynamics are important, but neither questions its founda- tion in state-centric frameworks. This paper thus adds a third narrative to highlight how India’s intervention perpetuates colonial traditions of policing the subcontinent’s various frontiers – traditions which have little to do with nation states. Saskia Sassen forcefully argued that looking at inter-state relations through the lense “inter-state relations” leads to tautological fallacies. Rather, territory, authority and rights intersect in specific assemblages throughout history, only some of which might take the form of nation states. Her framework renders visible how the contemporary intervention in Afghanistan perpetuates attempts to stabilize a fragile assemblage of territory, authority and rights on the fringes of the subcontinent which spans from the colonial to the post-colonial, and links Afghanistan with the Himalayas and India’s own North-Eastern territories. This assemblage is characterized by the channelling of power through select individuals, deployment of specialized paramilitaries, co-optation of local strongmen and separate legal frameworks.