With the US leaving Afghanistan after 20 years, the world wonders what will the fate of the country be, which is as unstable as ever. Let’s understand what role can India play in maintaining regional peace.
Crux of the Matter
Taliban is a militia insurgency group waging ‘jihad’ against the Afghan Government. Taliban in Pashto means Students.
- 1992 – Mujahideen overthrew Najibullah’s communist regime and came to power. It formed the Islamic State of Afghanistan.
- 1996 – Taliban took over Kabul and the country and imposed sharia law.
- Mujahideen led Northern Alliance fought the in-power Taliban. With US support, they defeated the Taliban and formed a government in 2001.
- This alliance was backed and aided by India. Till then, India had no contact with the Taliban and considered them to be a proxy of Pakistan.
India – Taliban
India hasn’t had any official relations with the Taliban because:
- India didn’t want to anger the Afghan Government.
- India didn’t know who to contact due to internal divisions in the Taliban.
- India didn’t want to go against its idea of not talking to ‘terrorists’.
IC 814 Hijack
Indian Airline flight IC-814 was hijacked and forced to land in Kandahar, Afghanistan. India was forced to release 3 militants, including Masood Azhar in return. India as they had no contact whatsoever with the Taliban then.
Taliban’s Stance On India
In 2019, the Taliban said that it had no interest in Kashmir and that it is India’s internal matter. As per Al Jazeera, unofficial backchannels were opened with Taliban in 2021.
India has invested heavily in Afghanistan and has provided with ~$2 billion in aid and funded projects like the Afghan parliament.
India funded Chabahar port in Iran is connected to central Asia via Afghanistan. Thus, India needs to protect its investments in Afghanistan.
Experts have cited the need for India to have influence in the Afghan Govt to counter the regional influence of Pakistan and China after the US leaves. India is also the only regional country that has friendly relations with the US and other western countries, as well as Russia and Afghanistan.
Peace negotiations in earnest is the only answer. An acceptable compromise that reflects Doha process, Moscow format & Istanbul process is essential. The future of Afghanistan cannot be its past. A whole new generation has different expectations. We should not let them down.S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister, India
- Hindu Kush means ‘Killer of Hindu‘ which might refer to the fact that slaves from the Indian Subcontinent would struggle to survive in the harsh Afghan mountains. It is the name of the 800 km long mountain range that stretches through Afghanistan mostly.