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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Taliban’s Victory: yet another Strategic Worry for India

Updated: Sep 5, 2021

For more than 40 long years, India had consistently backstabbed Pakistan by misusing Afghan soil through buying and launching proxies inside Pakistan. Indian close sponsorship of the former northern alliance and last two puppet regimes in Afghanistan has been no secret and even publicly acknowledged by the American former secretary defence Ashton Baldwin Carter (from February 2015 to January 2017). The main regional and extra regional stakeholders in Afghanistan purposefully had turned a blind eye to India’s nefarious role in Afghanistan as India by collaborating with Pakistan and Taliban’s arch foes was directly hurting Pakistan and indirectly stabbing Afghan Taliban. While former Soviet Union and then US and allies were busy in respective ill conceived strategic military blunders in Afghanistan, India remained focused on fomenting fissiparous hostile insurgencies in Pakistan and openly declared making IIOJ&K like situation in Pakistan. As India got embarrassing slap on the wrist from China in Leh/Ladakh/ and Arunachal Pradesh during 2020, likewise recent Taliban victory in 2021 against global military alliance including India that had invaded Afghanistan since October 2001, has badly upset Indian strategic calculus against Pakistan and China.

After decades of supporting the Afghan government not for the love of Afghans but for the hate of Pakistan, New Delhi is now embarrassingly planning for its potential fall. As the very last U.S. troops pull out from Afghanistan, there is conspicuous fear in New Delhi that the return of the Taliban to power might mean the eviction of Indian intelligence agency RAW’s spy network and annihilation of their murderous Doval proxies.

In my analyses titled, “Recognizing Spoilers in Afghanistan Peace Process” published in May 2019, it was opined that ‘It is so strange that President Ashraf Ghani after controversially extending his undue tenure as president instead of placing an interim government for holding free and fair elections is expecting from Pakistan to get him on the negotiating table with Taliban, while at the same time asking for guarantees from Taliban, Pakistan and other regional countries that Afghan soil would not be used by terrorists; whereas the same assurance has to come from his own government whose nexus with Indian deep state is very well known by the world as was also stated by former US Defence Secretary. Another spoilers’ agenda point being floated around is seeking an undertaking by the Taliban that poppy cultivation/ drugs production will not be allowed on Afghan soil. At the same time, Afghan government is allowing terrorist attacks on Pakistani troops busy in fencing Pak-Afghan international borders and on check posts guarding the borders against illegal crossings and smuggling. While Ambassador Khalilzad and Taliban are making slow and cautious progress on first two out of four main points i.e. ceasefire and US/ allies forces’ withdrawal schedule, which will be followed up by pledge by Taliban not to host any terrorists on Afghan soil (tantamount to pre-supposing that future dispensation will be dominated by Taliban) and making Taliban agree to talk with sitting Afghan government (looks remote at the moment). It is quite a positive development that almost all regional countries are seemingly supporting the peace process except Afghan sitting government along with sponsor India happy with using Afghan soil for launching hostile proxies in Balochistan and former tribal areas of Pakistan for triple squeeze on Pakistan to dilute its justified stance on Indian occupied Kashmir. Taliban having fought successfully against all odds in the last more than eighteen years are already feeling emboldened and reassured especially after recognition by US, China, Russia and other stakeholders as main actor in Afghan imbroglio appear mindful of engaging with Afghan people and therefore may agree to indulge in dialogue with all inclusive representative despite Ghani’s spoiling efforts to cause division on ethnic lines. Despite the fact that Pakistan has not only done an enviable job of defeating terrorists of all hue and colour on its soil as a front line state in global war against terrorism on a very heavy human and economic cost (most unfortunately neither projected enough by Pakistan nor adequately acknowledged by the global community) and is still playing a most delicate balancing and facilitation role for peace in Afghanistan in the face of accusations, military and economic pressure by USA and malicious spoiling part by India- Afghan nexus, Pakistan needs to remain vigilant against India projecting itself as an economic stakeholder in Afghanistan not for the love of Afghans but for the hate of Pakistan. Indian diplomatic and multi-channels approach to win over Taliban as well as America, China and Russia’s support for a role in Afghanistan needs to be effectively exposed and countered by all official and other available tracks of diplomacy. Although Pakistan, China and Russia are expected to be hoping for the best outcome as for the return of pace in Afghanistan, yet preparing for the worst if spoilers succeed, America was forced to abandon Afghanistan with partial reconciliation with Taliban and potential worst case scenario of Afghanistan relapsing into another chaotic situation. Therefore, all positive regional stakeholders need to synergize efforts for making reconciliation efforts a success by supporting ongoing peace process and join heads to figure out a post partial or complete reconciliation political dispensation in Afghanistan that is all inclusive and true representative of long suffering people of Afghanistan through free and fair elections under an interim government in Afghanistan and international observers. US/Allies and all regional stakeholders also need to work out a workable solution for socio-economic and security viability of Afghanistan after deliberate draw down by US and allies. Taliban are expected to have also matured in the last two decades and demonstrate due respect to Afghan women, other ethnic communities, and regional and extra regional concerns especially with respect to extreme ideology, remnants of Al Qaeda, Islamic State or any other non-state actors’ presence in Afghanistan.

As of now, the Modi and Doval team is finding itself pathetically isolated as Indian government had gone too far against Pakistan and China to please America that even annoyed old ally Russia and Iran. While Russia, China, and Iran started talking to the Taliban many years ago, in order to address their concerns directly with the Afghan Taliban if they returned to power, India, like her new patron USA, remained fixed in supporting the total failure of the puppet Afghan government. Therefore, all delayed Indian chameleonic diplomatic overtures towards Taliban are getting genuine rude response from the victors who seem determined to flush out the Indian plague from their motherland.

Pakistan also needs to stay parmatic and keep up the great work done so far to bring peace in Afghanistan in collaboration with regional and extra regional countries. Of course, remaining gratefully mindful of Pakistan’s greatest sacrifices and national interests, now China ought to take the lead role in the region for smooth and peaceful political dispensation in Afghanistan for the success of her BRI dream, which is giving sleepless nights to China’s strategic competitors.

14 July 2021

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