Q) The US's exit from Afghanistan has triggered Taliban emergence, geopolitical flux and thus, instability in the region. Analyse.
Why this Question?
Issue of current importance.
Key demand of the Question
Analyse in what way withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has steered the emergence of new challenges in the region.
Analyse – When asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary.
Start with a brief background of the situation.
In the first part, discuss the consequences of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and emergence of Taliban in the region.
In the next part, explain how this can lead to challenges in the larger South Asian region
Conclude with a way forward.
The speedy withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan has been matched by the swift advance of the Taliban across the nation. While the US has confirmed that 90% of the withdrawal is done, the Taliban has claimed that it is in control of 85% of Afghanistan territory. These developments have moved Afghanistan into the court of regional powers that now have the burden of managing the military vacuum created by the US retreat. The idea of a regional solution to Afghanistan has always had much political appeal. But divergent regional strategic perspectives limit the prospects for a sustainable consensus on Afghanistan.
Security concerns post troop withdrawal
- The US has announced that the Afghan War will end by September 11, having seized the Doha agreement as an opportunity.
- While its withdrawal will exacerbate chaos and violence in Afghanistan and impact the wider region.
- Due to the easing of UN restrictions for a few leaders and the freedom to operate from its Doha office, the Taliban continues to attend high-profile meetings in swanky hotels in Doha, while deadly attacks ravage Afghanistan.
- Vicious attacks on civilians, such as the killing of schoolgirls in Kabul on May 8, are conveniently blamed on Islamic State Khurasan Province (ISKP) by the Taliban.
- It is widely believed that the Pakistan army has infiltrated and is running the ISKP to “market” the Taliban as a “nationalist insurgent” group willing to fight “extremist” ISKP.
- Groups like ISKP and al-Qaeda in Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) and their variants will be used for high-profile attacks in Afghanistan and in the region, including against Western targets, to deter deeper re-engagement in Afghanistan.
- The chaos would create more ungoverned spaces strengthening the terror infrastructure. Hence, the developments in Afghanistan will continue to raise security concerns, far beyond South Asia.
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan poses major challenges to the Subcontinent
- India and Pakistan, for very different reasons, would have liked to see the US forces stay forever in Afghanistan.
- For India, American military presence would have kept a check on extremist forces and created conducive conditions for an Indian role in Afghanistan.
- For Pakistan, American military presence in Afghanistan keeps the US utterly dependent on Pakistan for geographic access and operational support. And that dependence in turn could be mobilised against India.
- But America is leaving Afghanistan. India and Pakistan will have to live with the consequences that include the triumphal return of the Taliban to power in Kabul and a boost to violent religious extremism across the region.
The prospect of trans-border links between the Taliban and other extremist forces in the region is a challenge that South Asian states will have to confront sooner than later. For now, India must actively contribute to the SCO deliberations on Afghanistan, but must temper its hopes for a collective regional solution. At the same time, Delhi should focus on intensifying its engagement with various Afghan groups, including the Taliban, and finding effective regional partners to secure its interests in a changing Afghanistan.