As Taliban makes a rapid military advance through Afghanistan, India too must brace itself for the consequences

Source: Indian Express (Article 1), Article 2) and Times of India

Relevance: This article explains the recent development in Afghanistan

Synopsis:

The Taliban have seized Kabul. Now, India should be a first responder in the current crisis for humanitarian and longer-term political reasons.

Introduction:

The Taliban first stormed to power in 1996, with an open demonstration of medieval cruelty and a barbaric transition to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Now, two decades later, they are capturing one strategic city after another. Now, they have returned to Kabul also.

Read more: India’s future Afghan policy – Explained, pointwise
Taliban rise to power again:

According to the latest reports, the militants control two-thirds of the Afghan landmass.

  • The Doha Agreement, from which the US excluded the Afghan government in order to keep the Taliban happy, now does not matter.
  • The Taliban stepped up attacks soon after the Doha Agreement concluded, carefully avoiding any engagement with existing foreign forces.
  • A UN report has already pointed to the continuing contacts between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Similarly, the influence of Pakistan is also present. The current Taliban cadres, instructed by half-educated teachers in Pakistani madrassas and training camps
  • The United Nations High Commission for Refugees has estimated that nearly 4,00,000 Afghan civilians have been forced to flee their homes, due to fighting this year.
  • There have been reprisal killings already, and reports say 90 Afghan media outlets have shut down.

The Afghan President has sent an offer to the Taliban to share power. But Taliban’s are reluctant and try to win the entire Afghan. Recently, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani stepped down from power.

Read more: India must directly engage with Taliban 2.0
Why the US mission failed?
  • The US has never really considered Afghanistan of strategic importance. For all its $1 trillion investment in Afghanistan and its awareness of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, the US never really invested in the Afghan economy or attempt to integrate it into its economic sphere of influence (including India).
    • But the US did that after its interventions after World War II in Europe, East Asia, and later in the oil economies of the Gulf.
  • Similarly, the US did not invest in Afghan democracy.
Outcomes of the Taliban rise
  1. The immediate challenge is a massive humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of thousands are internally displaced, who have left war zones and taken shelter on pavements and parks in Kabul.
  2. The panic and rush for passports and visas can be seen among those, who fear for their lives from the Taliban or their sponsors.
Suggestions for India:

With the Taliban in Kabul, the old debate in India on whether to talk or not to the Taliban is now academic. India has a presence in Afghanistan. So, India’s solidarity and support for the Afghan people must continue.

  • The Taliban have announced that there will be no witch hunt, and it will respect a transitional process. So, India should keep an open mind, wait and watch what they actually do during and after the transitional process, assess how inclusive they are.
  • India should also facilitate emergency visas and evacuation of those close to India, who will be under threat.
  • India recently received an invitation to the “Troika Plus” talks in Doha. It should actively engage in that.
Read more: Afghan Peace Process and India – Explained, Pointwise
Conclusion

The best choice for Afghanistan still is a negotiated settlement, instead of Taliban-dictated terms.

Terms to know:

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