The future of Afghanistan and India’s ambiguous relations with it

2020/11/02 | Note, political, top news

Strategic Council Online—Opinion: If for any reason, the Taliban are successful, either through political means and negotiations or military action, to possess maximum power in Afghanistan, and the two other parties—the North Front and the Liberal Democrats—are consequently placed in the weakness position, India would be definitely a loser as the Taliban’s view is ideological and therefore considers groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen against India in Keshmir as its own allies. Therefore, if the Taliban are placed in the position of strength and power in Afghanistan, they would provide such groups with operational bases and India can no longer play a significant role in that country. Pirmohammad Mollazehi—Expert of the subcontinent

During the past two decades, relations between India and Afghanistan have progressed in various political, economic, military and security domains. However, the probability of the participation of the Taliban in the structure of power in Afghanistan has caused concerns in India—something which could please Pakistan in rivalry with India. Notwithstanding, it should be noted that the situation in Afghanistan remains sophisticated and chaotically complex and that country is now in a state of bewilderment. This means the destiny of the ongoing peace talks in Doha is unclear. Now such questions may arise: Will there by a power-sharing deal between the Taliban and the central government of Afghanistan or not? In case power is shared in Afghanistan, will it be balanced among the three power-hunger parties that are 1- the Taliban, 2-the North Front represented by Abdullah Abdullah and 3- the Liberal Democrats represented by Ashraf Ghani.

It should be noted that should these three parties are provided with a balanced distribution of power in Afghanistan, the status of India there shall remain untouched as the future government of Afghanistan would have to create a balance in its relations with both Pakistan and India. Notwithstanding, it would be misguiding to imagine that the Taliban is one hundred per cent in the control of Pakistan.  The Taliban is enjoying its own Pashtun national feelings and if conditions change and its dependence on Pakistan ends, the Taliban would have less regards for Islamabad even though in terms of ideology and mindset, when compared to the other two groups, the Taliban would remain dependent on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and in the fourth level Pakistan; however, no great role should be considered for Pakistan in this respect. If for any reason, the Taliban are successful, either through political means and negotiations or military action, to possess maximum power in Afghanistan, and the two other parties—the North Front and the Liberal Democrats—are consequently placed in the weakness position, India would be definitely a loser as the Taliban’s view is ideological and therefore considers groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Hizb-ul-Mujahideen against India in Keshmir as its own allies. Therefore, if the Taliban are placed in the position of strength and power in Afghanistan, they would provide such groups with operational bases and India can no longer play a significant role in that country.

This is while the Taliban have been obligated, as per the provisions of their deal with the Americans, not to exploit any radical ‘Islamic’ group in the soil of Afghanistan against the United States and its ‘allies’. And India is surely considered a US ‘ally’ here as Arab countries have no issue with the Taliban. Therefore, it seems that the Taliban has admitted a series of commitments in terms of creating a balance between India and Pakistan. If this understanding is correct, the Taliban shall employ the same policy favoured by the United States in setting a balance between India and Pakistan in Afghanistan. Furthermore, the incumbent government in Kabul which is composed of members of the two ruling wings—the Ashraf Ghani’s wing and the Abdullah Abdullah’s wing—have very close ties with India. Therefore, the future structure of power in Afghanistan, regardless of its format, cannot ignore these two wings which are united with Delhi. Therefore, it is foreseeable that India is able to continue its ties with Afghanistan not at the present level but at an acceptable level unless Afghanistan is placed totally under the control of the Taliban, even though it is highly unlikely as they have demonstrated their radical differences with two major groups: first, the Shia groups which mainly include Hazaras and the Sadat, and second, the North Front which is composed of the Tajiks and the Uzbeks. Here, if each of these two wings does not win their rights and entitlement, they would take up arms as they did in the past and in this case, a government would be formed in the north of Afghanistan under the title of Khorasan and another government in the south under the title of Pashtunistan which will not be to the benefit of Pakistan as the disintegration of Afghanistan may lead to the collapse of Pakistan; however, in this scenario, India will not lose and would maintain its influence in northern Afghanistan.

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