Afghanistan without Pak & Islam

Source: Business Standard

Relevance: India’s future course of action in Afghanistan

Synopsis: India’s future afghan policy should stop viewing the Taliban as a hostile force. It should give a serious thought on the fact that despite having a different ideology, it might not be the enemy.

India’s future dynamics with Taliban

Few things to consider:

  • Taliban’s future interests might diverge from Pak: Is there a piece of evidence that the Taliban, out of dependence or gratitude, will remain a subordinate of the Pakistanis forever? Considering their past this seems a possibility but not a surety.
  • Is Taliban our enemy?: Taliban’s ideology might be different, but does that necessarily make them enemies of India? Are they likely to launch a war on India or join Pakistan in its war against us? What will there be in it for them?
  • Taliban is smarter than Pak thinks it to be: Pakistan has always fantasized about using the Taliban for strategic depth, but all these years they’ve used Pakistan for their own strategic depth.
Future outcomes in Afghanistan
  • Pakistan: If the fighting rages on for long, Pak’s hopes of quick benefits will disappear. The wounded, the homeless, the refugees, will all walk across the Durand Line.
  • Afghan government: Chances that the Ghani government will decisively defeat the Taliban militarily are near-zero. The most it can ensure is a violent stalemate around key cities.
  • India: The best outcome for India might still be a realistic negotiated settlement that brings peace and a sharing of power with minimal bloodshed. India has some leverage there, but very little to influence the course of the military confrontation. Both geography and geopolitics come in the way.
    • Strategically, that is the most prudent way forward. The Taliban have no need or compulsion to fight India. They’d definitely not be fighting Pakistan’s war against us. They neither want nor have the resources to radicalize India’s Muslims. Plus, they will continue to have problems of their own in a broken, unstable country seeing a massive flight of talent and capital.
Way forward

Indian government should stop seeing the Taliban as hostile just because it is conservatively Islamic.

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