Q) The aftershock of the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban can be expected to continue for long and therefore India needs a carefully calibrated strategy involving humane considerations towards the strategic neighbour and the non-permanent membership in the UNSC presents an opportunity to great effect in this regard. Comment.
Why this Question?
Issue of current importance.
Key demand of the Question
Discuss in detail the consequences of Taliban taking over Afghanistan and strategy needed by India in this regard.
Comment– here we have to express our knowledge and understanding of the issue and form an overall opinion thereupon.
Start with an introduction about the recent situation in Afghanistan.
In the first part, categorically discuss the concerns associated with Taliban taking over Afghanistan and its ramifications on India.
In the next part, mention the strategy that needs to be adopted by India in this regard. Explain how India can use its non-permanent membership at UNSC in its favour.
Conclude with a way forward.
The Islamist rebel group Taliban who took control of Kabul after a lightning sweep across the country controlling almost 90% of territory are yet to announce a government. Afghanistan today is in a condition that is far worse than what existed when the Russians withdrew in the 1990s.
Concerns with the current situation
- Some political commentators seem to believe that after the initial success of the Taliban and the collapse of the Afghan state, the natural political dynamicsof the region would assert itself.
- After two decades of active involvement in the affairs of Afghanistan, and spending over a trillion dollarsin the process to defeat terrorism and the al Qaeda, the U.S. has left Afghanistan in a worse situation than when it entered.
- It is not possible to discern any reduction in terrorism or the demise of any of the better-known terror groups, such as the al Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS), or for that matter, of lesser known terror outfits.
- As a matter of fact, there has been a resurgence in al Qaeda activities. The IS, after some earlier setbacks, is again regrouping and currently poses a real threat to areas abutting, and including, Afghanistan.
- Radicalised Islamist terror and the forces of ‘doctrinaire theocracy’ have, if anything, thus become stronger. The collapse of the Afghan state will ignite many old threats.
- Compared to the situation when the U.S. left Vietnam in 1975, which was also seen by many as a kind of ‘retreat’, the Afghan ‘misadventure’ has been a disaster.
- Under the leadership of the Communist Party, Vietnam was able to emerge as a vibrant nation with a thriving economy.
- Under the Taliban regime, Afghanistan cannot hope for any such outcome. It would remain the ‘sick man of Asia’ for generations to come, a standing folly to perils of outside intervention in the affairs of another nation.
What the Taliban Takeover means for India?
- The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has significant ramifications for South Asia, beginning with the rush of refugees Pakistan may soon see at its western borders.
- But few countries in the region have as much at stake in Afghanistan’s future as India, its fifth-largest aid donor and one of the most effective.
- India now finds many of its critical investments in human and physical infrastructure in Afghanistan in jeopardy as the Taliban take control.
- Worse still, the crisis following the U.S. withdrawal leaves India’s foreign-policy and security interests at considerable risk on two fronts.
- A new Taliban government will likely foster safe havens for anti-Indian terrorist organizations and other groups that could sow chaos in Indian-administered Kashmir.
- Meanwhile, China’s willingness to work with the Taliban could expand its footprint in the region.
- In the last two decades, India had become one of Afghanistan’s most significant donors, providing scholarships to Afghan students, offering food assistance, and helping restore the country’s war-ravaged power grid.
- But based on its past experience with a Taliban government, India’s security establishment now faces serious fears about its interests in the country.
- Despite the Taliban’s public assurances, Afghanistan could once again emerge as a regional terrorist haven.
- When they previously held power, the Taliban gave free rein to a host of anti-Indian terrorist organizations within Afghanistan, most notably Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
- Safe havens allowed these organizations to regroup, train, and then wreak havoc in Indian-administered Kashmir, the site of a long-running insurgency.
Situation not in favour of India
- India may be the outlier among Afghanistan’s neighbours for a variety of reasons, including its warm relations with the Karzai and the Ghani regimes in the past two decades.
- For India, the virtual retreat of the U.S. from this part of Asia; the growing China-Russia-Pakistan nexus across the region; and an Iran under a hardliner like Ebrahim Raisi, all work to its disadvantage.
- With the Taliban now in control in Kabul, External Affairs Minister said that New Delhi is “very carefully” following the developments in Afghanistan and India’s focus is on ensuring the security and safe return of Indian nationals still in the war-torn country.
- External Affairs Ministry, while addressing reporters at the UN Security Council stakeout after chairing an open-debate on peacekeeping underIndia’s current UNSC Presidency, said, “that (situation in Afghanistan) is really what has been very much the focus of own engagements here.
- At the moment we are, like everybody else, very carefully following developments in Afghanistan.
- India’s focus is on ensuring the security in Afghanistan and the safe return of Indian nationals who are there.
- India could implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 to protect the minorities in Afghanistan.
- As and when the situation stabilises medical visas, visas for students who have already secured admission can be considered.
If the 21st century was expected to become the century of progress, the situation in Afghanistan represents a severe setback to all such hopes and expectations. The aftershock of the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban can be expected to continue for long.