- GS-2: India and its neighborhood- relations.
- GS-2: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests
The script of the new endgame in Afghanistan
Context: The departure of Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and almost the entire top political leadership of Afghanistan to safer havens, as Taliban has quickly captured Afghanistan.
US decision to withdraw its forces irrespective of the situation within Afghanistan — without any consideration of the consequences —enabled the Taliban to take over.
- The Taliban’s duplicity in projecting, at one level the image of a mature group during the Doha talks while at another, perpetuating violence of the most ferocious kind, is clearly evident as events unfold.
- Present situation is worse than in 1990 when USSR withdrew from Afghanistan. During 1990s there was at least a leader who could mobilize people against Taliban rule. Today, there is collapse of organised resistance both at domestic and international level to Taliban takeover.
- As the Afghan state implodes, one can expect a wider cleaving between Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hazaras and the myriad other clans that populate Afghanistan.
- Radicalised Islamist terror and the forces of ‘doctrinaire theocracy’ have become stronger. The collapse of the Afghan state will ignite many old threats (resurgence of Al-Qaeda & ISIS)
- US exit without any responsibility has diminished the image of the U.S. in Asian eyes. In light of this, U.S. claims to ‘make America great again’ sound extremely hollow
- In Afghanistan, the Taliban is intent on keeping absolute control and is counting on China, Russia, and Pakistan to do so. All of them are more intent on keeping out the U.S., and in effect India.
Situation not in favour of India
- India may be the outlier among Afghanistan’s neighbours for a variety of reasons, including its warm relations with the Karzai and the Ghani regimes in the past two decades.
- For India, the virtual retreat of the U.S. from this part of Asia; the growing China-Russia-Pakistan nexus across the region; and an Iran under a hardliner like Ebrahim Raisi, all work to its disadvantage.
If the 21st century was expected to become the century of progress, the situation in Afghanistan represents a severe setback to all such hopes and expectations. The aftershock of the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban can be expected to continue for long.
Connecting the dots: