Monumental Taliban’s victory has changed the geopolitical and strategic situation of Afghanistan. Taliban’s swift control over Afghanistan‘s capital Kabul and subsequent resignation of President Ashraf Ghani is testimony to the fact that the Taliban’s Islamic regime in the foreseeable future of Afghanistan politics cautions not to have another civil war. This seismic shift in politics would not only affect international relations but would also have ripple-down effects on neighboring countries such as India.
Understanding the strained relation between Taliban and India
Considering the historical hostile and strain relations between the Afghan Taliban and New Delhi, India would now have to re-evaluate and re-adjust its Afghan strategy otherwise it might face serious geo-political and geo-economic repercussions. In this matrix, the Afghan-Taliban-led government is a matter of concern for India since it will threaten India’s diplomatic stakes in the country vis a vis its $3 billion massive development investment in Afghanistan.
India predominantly has been the largest donor to Kabul in the region just to maintain cordial relations with the Ghani government and to extend its influence over the Afghan people. These soft power tactics helped India to put down and undermine Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan in conjunction with terrorist infiltration in Pakistan through the Afghan border. However, now in this evolving context, the Afghan-Taliban-led government is likely to be more inclined towards Pakistan than India, given the fact that Pakistan has played a decisive role in the Afghan peace process and has been vocal about the Afghan-owned political future of Afghanistan.
Afghan-Taliban’s closer ties with Islamabad will upset New Delhi in a multifarious manner. Firstly, India would not be able to sponsor terrorism in Pakistan as its unrestricted access to the Afghan border would be halted by the Taliban considering the Taliban’s court statement, that Afghan soil will never be used against any country. Secondly, according to Indian analysts, Harsh V Pant Taliban have captured Afghanistan province Badakhshan, which borders Azad Kashmir is another rising concern for India.
What will be the new course of action?
Moreover, Taliban ruled Afghanistan might seize India’s opportunities of connecting it to Central Asian Republics CARs via Chabahar port resultantly, its geo-economic stakes would also be in peril contrary to Pakistan’s access to these countries, which provide economic incentives to Pakistan and are a crucial part of CPEC as well. Henceforth, the geo-political and geo-economic prominence of Pakistan is a sign of things to come and it does not augur well for India as its malign activities to sabotage CPEC will be threatened. In addition to this China, another regional rival of India shares a close bond with the Afghan Taliban as well.
China wants to extend its friendly relation with the Afghan Taliban for the success of its mega economic project OBOR /BRI by connecting key regional players. The success of this economic project will enhance china’s economic influence at the regional and international levels thus would curtail India’s hegemonic influence in the region. Following, the mentioned predicted realities India would now maximize its policy actions either by negotiating with the Taliban on various social-political and economic issues or by using its clout to put indirect pressure upon the Taliban to reduce the damage to its interests in Afghanistan.
However, the present changing situation in Afghanistan necessitates India to make adjustments that would be compatible and in favor of all regional actors predominantly would not threaten regional stability. All in all, it can be said that the future of India in Afghanistan depends upon what policy action will India take and how the Taliban will respond to India’s outreach.
Sumayya Khalil is a development expert and social researcher. She poses credible knowledge in the field of peace, conflict and development. She can be reached at email@example.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.