Agreement for “Bringing Peace to Afghanistan”
Afghan peace process: The Afghan peace process comprises the proposals and negotiations that were aimed at ending the ongoing civil war between the Taliban and Afghanistan government.
- US and Taliban signed an agreement for “Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” in February 29, 2020
- It will enable the US and NATO to withdraw troops in the next 14 months
- It also provides for removal of UN and US sanctions on Taliban leaders
- Taliban on its part committed to not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies
- However, the pact is silent on other terrorist groups – such as anti-India groups Lashkar-e-Taiba or Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Developments in Afghan peace process
- Recently, the United Nations Secretariat held a meeting of the “6+2+1” group on regional efforts to support peace in Afghanistan.
- “6+2+1” group consists of 6 countries sharing border with Afghanistan (China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan),2 global players (U.S.A, Russia) and Afghanistan.
- India was left out of the Afghan peace process citing, India doesn’t share border with Afghanistan though India’s Pok region (along Wakhan Corridor) shares land border with Afghanistan.
India’s position on Taliban
- Recently, India participated in the inaugural session in intra-Afghan peace talks after being invited by the Qatari government on the recommendation of the Afghan government.
Impact of US troops withdrawal on India:
- Security situation: Weaker American presence in Afghanistan would embolden local militant groups such as the Taliban, whose influence could subsequently spread to neighbouring Pakistan and Kashmir.
- A report by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) assessed that “The Taliban is calibrating its use of violence to harass and undermine the ANDSF [Afghan National Defense and Security Forces] and the Afghan government.
- Regional connectivity and related economic concerns: India’s investments of billions in Afghanistan (India is Afghanistan’s largest contributor of development assistance in the region) and plans to connect with Central Asia would be jeopardized if Taliban, being supported by Pakistan, gains ground. For example, the building of Afghanistan’s Parliament, reconstruction of the Salma dam and establishment of an electricity transmission line from Pul-e-Khumri to Kabul etc
- Regional instability: Sudden American withdrawal might create a civil war like situation as various regional stakeholders (China, Russia and Pakistan) will try to reshape the battlefield in accordance with their own strategic priorities, which will hamper India’s long gestated efforts at building Afghanistan.
- Isolation of India: India’s displeasure with Taliban is explicit and India was supported by US on this, but post US announcement of withdrawal most of the other stakeholders, like Russia and US, have simply ignored and isolated India’s views and have engaged with Taliban and its sponsors in Pakistan in finding a solution.