Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan

As the US exits, Afghanistan finds itself at the crossroads

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- The U.S. exit from Afghanistan and its implications for the region

The article highlights the implications of the U.S. exit from Afghanistan for the region.

Status of the Afghanistan peace process

  • The Afghanistan peace process has been in disarray as the conference to be hosted by the United Nations in Istanbul, remains suspended due to the reluctance of Afghan’s Taliban.
  • Now there is some hope of breaking the impasse as the Taliban have expressed an openness to attend the Istanbul summit.
  • United States President Joe Biden is insistent on withdrawing the troops on September 11, even without any power-sharing deal between the warring parties.
  • Taliban leadership, who may feel the urgency to resuming negotiations than completely abandoning them for fear of losing the international legitimacy they enjoy at the moment.

How the U.S. exit will affect Pakistan

  • After months of negotiations, the U.S.-Taliban deal was signed in February 2020, and Pakistan took full credit for it.
  • As the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan for almost two decades had kept the U.S. reliant on Pakistan for operational and other support.
  • Pakistan smartly mobilised this factor against India.
  • With the disappearance of this lethal dependence, Pakistan faces an uphill task in conducting a viable Afghan policy.
  • Pakistan cannot keep America invested in it on military, economic, and societal fronts without partnering with the U.S. to ensure a smooth transition of power in Kabul.

Impact on China

  • The Taliban now draw support from a wide variety of regional powers, including Russia, China and Iran.
  • However, these countries too want the insurgent group to moderate its position.
  • China, which has a beneficiary of the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, seems confused as the American exit looms large.
  • The U.S. exit would leave Beijing vulnerable to its spillover effects particularly in the restive Xinjiang province.
  • That is why China has remained invested in all major regional Afghan-centric negotiations.

Implications for India

  • India has been the key regional backer of an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace process.
  • India is concerned that the Taliban-dominated regime in Afghanistan might allow Pakistan to dictate Afghanistan’s India policy.
  • That is why India has underlined the need for a genuine double peace i.e. within and around Afghanistan.
  • But despite being offered a seat at Istanbul at the U.S.’s behest, India remains a peripheral player.
  • The strategic competition between the China and the U.S.,  China’s growing rivalry with India, and New Delhi’s tense relationship with Islamabad are some of the factors which will certainly affect the situation in Afghanistan as the U.S. leaves the country.

Consider the question “What are the implications of the U.S. exit from Afghanistan for the region? Examine its impact on India.

Conclusion

While the exit would bring the U.S.’s “forever war” to an end, it is unlikely to result in peace if Afghan stakeholders show their utter inability to take the process forward.

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