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Q&A: Who else could help in Afghanistan?

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There is growing acceptance in the region that a stable and independent Afghanistan will have improved relations with its neighbors. Despite their rivalry, even India and Pakistan have increasingly begun to discuss – with Afghanistan – how they might combat the Taliban.

Some analysts say, however, that Pakistan regards the Afghan Taliban as a means to counter India's growing influence in Afghanistan and as potential allies when the US withdraws.

How involved are Afghanistan's neighbors now in peace or reconstruction efforts?

India currently has a "soft power" presence in Afghanistan, in the form of development aid, cultural ties, and building projects. With more than $1 billion invested, Afghanistan constitutes its biggest overseas investment.

China's role in Afghan­istan is primarily economic. It spent $3.5 billion to secure extraction rights at a copper mine in Aynak, south of Kabul, the largest single-investment project in the country.

Since 2001, Iran has taken an active part in reconstruction in Afghanistan, particularly in the areas close to its border.

Russia has promised to keep a land and air route through its territory open as an alternative to NATO's supply route through Pakistan, which is increasingly vulnerable to attack. It also has trained Afghan government antinarcotics officers.

Why might Afghanistan's neighbors continue to stay involved?

India: India recognizes how vital a stable Afghanistan is for its own security and is particularly concerned about the spread of terrorism in the region. India would also like to be seen as a responsible partner of developed countries, and its role in Afghanistan demonstrates that. Energy-starved India is also increasingly preoccupied by access to oil and gas in Central Asia.

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