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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Taliban’s return: A huge blow to India’s interest in Afghanistan

The situation in Afghanistan could potentially set off a domino effect in the Indian subcontinent. In this regard, Amjed Jaaved talks about India's confused view of the actual situation in Afghanistan and how India it needs to revamp its policies in accordance with the new government of the Taliban.

The situation in Afghanistan is still fluid. The Taliban are still faced with the challenge to secure de jure international recognitionThey are being portrayed by the Islamic State-Khorasan as American spies who want to live in cozy seven-star hotels in Doha. The Taliban urgently need financial succor to ameliorate the lot of the common man in a war-ravaged country.

Taliban’s rise and fall of Kabul were beyond the US and India’s wildest imagination. In a video, President Biden of the US ruled out this possibility, yet the Afghan forces took to heels without firing a shot.

India believes that the Taliban could never have achieved, what they have, without help from Pakistan. They point out that the Quetta Shoora, akin to the Iranian guardians’ council is based in Pakistan. The Afghan head of state, Akhundzada had been living in Pakistan until he moved to Qandahar a few days back.

Read more: India and Afghanistan united against Pakistan?

India’s continued pressure on the US

The US did a lot to isolate Pakistan in the comity of nations. The FATF difficulties are an upshot of Indo-US joint efforts. Through US backing, India has been able to portray the freedom struggle in Kashmir as a “terrorist movement.”

The cataclysmic rise of the Taliban shattered India’s dream to be a stakeholder, a guarantor of the peace deal between the US and the Taliban.

The US looked the other way when India stoked insurgency in Baluchistan or the Federally Administered Tribal Area (through the Pashtun Tahafuzz Movement). It not only sheltered the Baluch insurgents but also allowed them to open an office in New Delhi.

Under Indo-US pressure, the Taliban were compelled to say that Kashmir is a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan.

Read more: Pakistan based Terror Groups will Target India and Afghanistan, warns US spymaster

Af-Pak duplicitous hostility

India wants to avail itself of Afghanistan’s untapped abundant natural resources like China and other countries. It wants to transit its goods via Central Asia to Europe. Doing so requires India to bury the hatchet with Pakistan. Yet India is Toujours at daggers drawn with Pakistan. India anticipates that Afghanistan shall, sooner rather than later, agitate the issue of the Durand Line with Pakistan.

It is happy that some Taliban have muffled resentment against the barbed fence erected at the Afpak border. Senior military officers took off the veneer of rank to talk to PTM leaders, eye-ball-to-eye-ball. The PTM demands were well reflected in media, including the Herald.

India has been assiduously reminding Afghanistan that Pakistan sold scores of Afghanis, dubbed terrorists’ to earn millions of dollars. Parvez Musharraf, in his autobiography, acknowledges this bitter truth remorselessly.

Propaganda about women’s plight

India is trumpeting full-throated that the Pakistan army abducted scores of women during the Waziristan operation. The women were used as sex slaves and forced into trafficking. Indian media also alleges that the Taliban dragged former Afghan soldier’s wives and daughters for the household and insulted their modesty.

The US dependence on Pakistan sounds like a nightmare to India. India believes that at some stage, the US would strike a compromise with China to give the latter a free hand in Afghanistan. In such an eventually, Pakistan’s importance would naturally be whittled down.

Read more: India and Afghanistan declaring an “Air Cargo Service” over Pakistan: Realistic Economics or Political Gimmickry?

What is the Pashtun Tahafuz movement?

This organization used to display the Afghan flag, instead of Pakistan’s flag, at its party meetings. Abroad. They are very vocal critics of the Pak army. They even attacked army check posts, killing or maiming many soldiers.

A PTM activist Dr. Fauza Raoof converted to Hinduism and renamed herself, Saraswati Dasi. She has been urging the Pashtun community to renounce Islam, convert to Hinduism, and marry the Hindu. The PTM leaders often fly off the handle and begin to speak even against the integrity of Pakistan. The PTM is fond of talking to international media, particularly Afghan Diaspora, than Pakistan’s governments that it calls “toothless”.

During the PTM’s meetings abroad, they proudly hoist the Afghan national flag. The PTM refers to military generals as “traitors.” They even allege, without any evidence, that the military was complicit in the horrific terrorist attack, claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, on an Army-run school, which was populated with the children of soldiers, in Peshawar back in December 2014.

Such witheringly anti-military rhetoric, according to the PTM’s harshest critics, exemplifies how the movement has lost its appeal and descended into ethnic-power politics while becoming “a political party in all but name.” More broadly, it angers many others in Pakistan who venerates the military and regards such vociferous criticism as wholly unjustifiable.

Read more: How do Russia, Pakistan, China, Iran and India view the Taliban’s rise in Afghanistan?

The PTM berates Pak army operations and extols drone strikes. For one thing, drone strikes amount to aggression. In an article, David Swanson pointed out that any use of military force, be it a drone attack, amounts to war. The Kellogg-Briand Pact made war a crime in 1928 and various atrocities became criminal acts at Nuremberg and Tokyo.

The UN charter maintained war as a crime, but limited it to ‘aggressive’ war, and gave immunity to any wars launched with the UN approval. If that is indeed the case, did the UN allow drone attacks on Pakistan? Drone attacks on our territory are a clear violation of our sovereignty as an independent state

The PTM never admitted that drone attacks are a sacrilege of Pakistan’s sovereignty. It never focused on the so-called `collateral damage in terms of innocent women, children, and adults killed.

Taliban’s return and India’s nightmare

As the president of the United Nations Security Council and perched at the Sanctions Committee, India believes it has leverage to warp the Taliban’s foreign policy. There is no let-up in India’s hybrid warfare on the “Af-Pak nexus” and on international forums. A sensible policy for India is to mend its fence with Pakistan. After all, Afghanistan never provided any sanctuaries to Kashmiri freedom fighters. Besides, Afghanistan has never been a threat to India’s security (aside from India’s figment of imagination).

Read more: Exposed: Indian terrorists are fighting in Afghanistan and Syria, Raffaello Pantucci

India needs to realize that its duplicitous policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan could prove to be self-defeating. The Taliban came to power again because they were more powerful than their 1996 rule and had the backing of their own people. It was the American government that kept laying to the rest of the world about gains in Afghanistan. Regional actors are deliberating to deal with the latest and unexpected development in Afghanistan. Pakistan has been the major victim of terrorism for the last two decades.

Like other regional actors China, Iran, Saudi, Arabia, UAE, Pakistan is also looking into that how to engage with this political reality (Taliban) and work for preventing any crisis-like situation in Afghanistan. The U.S. seems not to engage the Taliban politically but that will antagonize the Taliban towards the U.S. and its allies. The majority of the international media are reporting from Kabul which reflects there is a sense of security for them.

A stable and economically viable Afghanistan is better for regional peace and security than an economically shattered and security-wise unstable. Therefore, it is the responsibility of great power and regional actors to extend humanitarian assistance and economic aid to avoid any resurgence of drugs and Kalashnikov culture. The transition from a puppet government to a Taliban regime is crucial for the people of Afghanistan. History teaches great lessons, perhaps states don’t wish to learn them.

Afghanistan as an item on India’s foreign policy balance sheet has turned out to be a loss-making proposition more times than one. Twice in the last 40 years, India thought it had a good thing going, betting its fortunes in Afghanistan, partnering with a superpower, and yet both times India was left in the lurch as the powers decided to quit in a super hurry.

Read more: Op-ed: India one of the major players in Afghanistan’s domestic and foreign affairs

India realized it had to recalibrate its position if it wanted to maintain a toehold in the country, a necessary strategic requirement keeping Pakistan in mind. Doubtless, patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. India is overplaying PTM to tarnish Pakistan’s image. The PTM should make public its funding sources. Lest the PTM is dubbed unpatriotic, it should stick on course. And confine itself to its primary demand for reduction or elimination of the army check posts.

Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been contributing freelance for over fifty years. His articles are published in dailies at home (The News, Nation, etc) and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, et. al.). He is the author of eight books including Kashmir: The Myth of Accession. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.