(MENAFN- Daily Outlook Afghanistan) For more than four decades the country Afghanistan has been a playground for super and regional powers and is now on the verge of being free from foreign forces on its soil since October 7, 2001, when the United States launched a decisive war against the terrorism especially in search of Osama bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda chief. The President duo of America- Donald Trump and Joe Biden have reiterated US policy to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan which has already begun and likely to be completed by September 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of Washington’s longest war on foreign soil. During the entire period of war against terror fought by Afghan security forces backed by American-led forces of NATO countries who also got the moral support of India and in addition, New Delhi has helped Afghanistan a lot in the construction and restructuring of country’s infrastructures that ultimately pave the way for making a good understanding among America, Afghanistan and India and they all want a fairly elected/democratic government in post- withdrawal Kabul. Opposite to this is the group which include Pakistan, Taliban, China and recently Russia with Islamabad in the role of team-leader who did not want there a pro- India government and trying its level best to push Taliban to the throne of Afghanistan who will establish an Islamic State and will also perform as a puppet government of Pakistan. From the beginning, Taliban has flourished under the shadow and substantial help of Pakistan and consequently Islamabad wields a large amount of influence on working of Taliban.
To a large extent, Taliban is obliged from Pakistan but in no way it is opposed to India while Pakistan is totally committed to a 'India-mukt’ Afghanistan and its victory lies in the victory of Taliban- either by electoral process or military might.
In that kind of situation, the other group feared the return of old Taliban rule of between 1996 and 2001, a true disaster for democratic values.
Indian interests in Afghanistan
Since February 29, 2020, when the United States signed an agreement with Taliban and both sides committed to obey the conditions attached with it, the way for withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan appeared clear and with it the stakeholders of Afghan politics began to ponder over the situations after their saying good bye, In this short period India needs to re-set its policy preferences in Kabul because the Taliban group after the agreement has emerged as a potent force of Afghan politics which no body can deny but New Delhi has continuously denied the importance of Taliban also because it has remained with Pakistan’s side and opposed to India.
Indian development works and assets have always been targeted by the Haqqani group, a major faction of Taliban. The fast-changing situations in Afghanistan demand from India to work with Taliban, a terror New Delhi has avoided so far, it has to do with the increasing influence of Pakistan’s Inter -Services Intelligence (ISI) which shares a link with the Haqqani group.
In addition to these two, India also needs to be ready for the instability of in Afghanistan after withdrawal of foreign forces. At the juncture what India needs to do is; a. to keep alive broader diplomatic engagement by appointing an envoy for the purpose who will be acquainted with the latest developments and also let the government know full detail; b. to continue the training programme for the Afghan security forces along with other schemes of investments which will make the Afghan army strong enough to face the coming odds, and c. need to broaden the negotiation base by involving Iran, Russia, China and other concerned powers to seek a common ground for the future of Afghanistan and commence diplomatic initiatives at its level. In other words, India should rely more on long-term strategies rather than focusing only on present.
Stakes for Pakistan
To a large extent the future course of action to be decided by Pakistan depends on the development of Afghanistan whether military might is going to be victorious under Taliban and its allies or the democratic process as both the systems are known to the public with benefits and side effects. Especially after the fall of Taliban rule in December 2001 and signing on the Bonn Agreement which provided for the political system of the country and in the year 2004 a new constitution was implemented in Afghanistan, the people have enjoyed the fruits of a democratic regime while the period between 1996 and 2001, the rule of Taliban prevailed in the country where administration was run by the Islamic laws or as per the guidance of Shariat, although considered a dark age in terms of democracy and human rights abuses. In opposition to India, Pakistan had done everything possible to get the Taliban back in the driving seat in Kabul, but the time has come now to arrange and manage the things in a right way to have a desired result. In addition, Pakistan has faced a lot of charges from Washington not to co-operate with America in its war against terror and made only false promises along with keeping the former in dark and telling a lie. This is why Pakistan has distanced itself from the US And openly began to speak against America and in favour of China and Russia recently. Anyhow, if Pakistan fails to install a Taliban government in Afghanistan, its relations with the US will remain in peril and at the same time its desire to marginalise India in Kabul will not be fulfilled, a true disaster for Islamabad.
A test of Taliban’s tactfulness
The contemporary scenario of Afghanistan is a test case for Taliban’s ability to rule over the country as by making an Agreement with Taliban the US has already accepted it as a potential power of Afghan politics and now is the turn of Taliban and its allied forces to show the level of maturity and skill to the public and the America as well. In the context, it is also a fact that even Taliban never desires to be fully tied with Pakistan because over the years the regional and global politics have undergone a sea change and even Taliban being in power would require a lot from the other neighbours, countries of the region and the world powers. Apart from these, there is also a traditional border dispute between Afghanistan and Pakistan on demarcation of 'Durand Line’ where Taliban will not be in a position to make any compromise with Pakistan and once, the final decision of Afghan’s throne is settled, all other things will be clear sooner or later.
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