The script of the new endgame in Afghanistan

Source: The Hindu, Indian Express, Times of India, Livemint and The Economic Times

Relevance: This article explains the recent developments in Afghanistan.


Taliban will have to show moderation if they wish to be accepted as a member of the global community.


The U.S. forces vacated the Bagram airbase (near Kabul) on July 2. Within six weeks, the Taliban captured Kabul. This shows the brittleness of Afghan security forces.

Afghanistan today is in a condition that is far worse than what existed when the Russians withdrew in the 1990s.

How the situation is different from the 1990s?
  1. In the 1990s, the Taliban were a band of outlaws. But today, they are recognised by powers such as the U.S., Russia, and China, and are on the brink of gaining a country.
  2. In the 1990s, Russia had to contend with a superpower (the US) to hold the region. But this time, the US withdraws from Afghan without any credible outside power.
How did the US decision to withdraw impact it?

The US has long been searching for an honorable exit. The U.S. decision to withdraw (after the Doha Agreement) results in three important signals.

  1. The US failed to safeguard the interests of the Afghanistan people.
  2. The U.S. had acknowledged the Taliban’s supremacy in return for the safe passage of their troops.
  3. In 2001, the US decided to take a global war on terror. Beginning with Afghanistan, the US went through Iraq, Libya, and Syria. All with mixed results.

All this has diminished the image of the U.S. in Asia. In light of this, US’s claim to ‘make America great again’ sounds extremely impossible.

Read more: As Taliban makes a rapid military advance through Afghanistan, India too must brace itself for the consequences
How did the US decision to withdraw impact China?

The US now regards China as its principal strategic competitor. While the US struck in Afghan, China started asserting its claims in the East and South China Seas.

To tackle China effectively in the Indo-Pacific, the US needs resources and attention. With the US decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, the US now will have better options and greater resources in dealing with China.

On the other hand, the absence of the US in Central Asia provides an opportunity for China in that region.

Read more: Afghan Peace Process and India – Explained, Pointwise
How do the old terror outfits get benefits out of Afghanistan?
  • After two decades of active involvement in the affairs of Afghanistan, and spending over a trillion dollars in the process to defeat terrorism and al-Qaeda, the U.S. has left Afghanistan without achieving any of its objectives.
  • Further, there has been a resurgence in al-Qaeda activities recently.
  • The IS, after some earlier setbacks, is again regrouping and currently poses a real threat.
  • So, the collapse of the Afghan state will ignite many old threats in West Asia.
India – Afghanistan relations

Read this post to know about India’s Afghanistan investment. The other investments are,

  • India also provides assistance to Afghan nationals under its Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) programmes. So far, more than 65,000 students have studied in India under various scholarships, and there are 15,000 such students presently.
  • Under the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), Pakistan provided Afghan traders access to its Wagah border with India, thus allowing Afghan exports to reach India. The agreement, however, does not allow Indian goods.
Read more: India’s future Afghan policy – Explained, pointwise
What India needs to do?

India needs to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 to protect the minorities in Afghanistan.

As and when the situation stabilises medical visas, visas for students who have already secured admission can be considered.

Read other suggestions from Return of Taliban has implications for India

International relations with Taliban’s Afghanistan:
  • Among Afghanistan’s neighbours, India and Iran are two countries that would find accommodation with a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan very difficult. This is due to their warm relations with the Karzai and the Ghani regimes in the past two decades.
  • The Taliban will need Pakistan at least in the short and medium term. So, Pakistan will maintain cordial relations with the Taliban in the near future.
  • Relations between Taliban Afghanistan and Uzbekistan and Tajikistan may not be easy, but will not lead to any major problems for now.
Read more: India must directly engage with Taliban 2.0

The situation in Afghanistan represents a severe setback for India. Afghanistan under the Taliban would remain the ‘sick man of Asia’ for generations to come. Because, taking over a country by force is one thing, but governing it effectively is quite another matter.

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