Dealing with Taliban post US – A good decision?

After the decades-long tug-of-war between the US and the militant organization, the Taliban, finally both sides striked a deal in Doha, September 2020. The decision both organizations came upon was that the US would move out of Afghanistan. At the same time, the latter will curb violence and terrorist activity and take part in Intra-Afghan talks.

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As the US exited, different sections of world politics needed to decide their future policies concerning Afghanistan, and India faces the same problem. Taliban captured all the territories of Afghanistan . There was minimum resistance, and the politicians also left their post to run.

This has changed the whole scenario for the countries only dealing with the Afghanistan government, including India. So, the question arises, is dealing with the Taliban a good decision for India to protect its Afghanistan’s interests?

Before looking into the policies, India should adopt and why, let’s first go through why India never interacted with the Taliban, the resurging power of Afghanistan for so many decades.

  • Terrorism – The Taliban is the centre of many terrorist activities going in or out of state. It was the same group who escorted terrorists into India following the hijacking of Indian Airlines in 1999.
  • Pakistan Influence – It is a known fact that the terrorists are fled to Quetta, Pakistan and run their organization from here during the capturing of the Taliban. Since then, Pakistan is said to exercise influence over them. It will be a waste to support talks with such militant groups that will only side with Pak due to their funding.
  • Past relation – During the time the Taliban took over Afghan between 1996-2001, it never tried to establish good relations with India and ignore its influence. There’s no guarantee that the future will be any different. And with the mixed response coming from the Talibanis leaders on terrorizing Kashmir makes the situation more uncertain.
  • Afghan-India Relations – India is the country that chooses to stick to moral obligations. Therefore, India’s past policies always treated the Afghanistan government as its friend, and building ties with the Taliban may affect this.
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There are other reasons why India should held talks with Taliban before it’s too late.

  • Current situation –Taliban made its position strong by signing a deal with the US and gaining recognition from many international communities. After the capture of whole Afghanistan, meetings were held with EU as well as the US.
  • Investments – India invested more than billions of rupees in the Taliban, which needs to be protected.
  • Terrorism –  If the talks result in peaceful relations, it could help India fight against terrorist attacks from Pakistan’s side, which continues in the Kashmir region, using Afghanistan as a launchpad.
  • Future goals – The goal of India will surely be to curb the influence of Pakistan on Afghanistan that uses it as a proxy. The talks could help a lot for India.

If we look into the earlier policies of India-Afghan bilateral relations, India always maintained a close association with the Afghanistan government. It never recognized the Taliban, whether it was the Congress-led centre party of the NDA government. But the situation now entirely seems to change, and there’s no other way out rather than changing the age-old Indian policy.

Recently, many media houses reported that India started backchannels for communications with the Taliban groups. In the Ghana meet of 2020, India and the Taliban was first seen alongside each other. These things suggest that India has already started some policy changes.

Referring to the current situation at hand, India can take either of two approaches stated:

  • WAIT AND WATCH – The Taliban became more violent since the US-exist. The news channels every hour reports terror attacks ,killing , execution and bombing. It will be better for India to wait and look at how the Taliban is handling its affairs and public and how the meeting with international communities turn out before rushing into any decisions.
  • Involvement – If there’s any proper time for India to take a step further and set ties with the Taliban, it’s now. Taliban, after getting recognition, is not under much hold of Pak, and there are many effective, older and smaller factions in Taliban that are open to working with India as it could benefit both.

With major superpowers holding talks with India, every eye turns to India to what their future policies will be. Will they remain neutral or will they give in their decades long policy? The situation has changed. Taliban now is at the center of power in Afghanistan.

It has already been two-three month since Taliban took over and no one has strongly objected. The international community though some not supporting the situation needs to co-operate with Taliban to help improve the humanitarian crisis surrounding Afghan.

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India is still observing the situation and setting backchannel communications hint that the negotiations may start soon. But if it does, India should remain highly cautious with every step and take an active part in keeping out what’s in its mind and how it will proceed.

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