Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan

Biden’s Afghanistan Peace Plan

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Afghan peace process

The Joe Biden administration has proposed a new peace plan to the Afghan government and the Taliban, seeking to bring violence to a halt and form an interim government.

What is Biden’s proposal?

  • The US has asked the Afghan President to show “urgent leadership in the coming weeks”.

The proposal included many elements.

  • It has proposed an UN-led conference of representatives of Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India and the US to discuss a unified approach to support peace in Afghanistan.
  • It urges both sides including the Taliban to reach a consensus on Afghanistan’s future constitutional and governing arrangements.
  • It asks to find a road map to a new “inclusive government”; and agree on the terms of a “permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”.

Why the US is making this peace push?

  • The US has pointed out that accelerating the peace process is the best way to advance the shared interests of the US and the Afghan government.
  • According to the agreement the U.S. signed with the Taliban in February 2020, American troops – currently some 2,500 troops are in Afghanistan – are set to vacate by May 1.
  • The Taliban and the Afghan government started peace talks in Doha in September last year but reached no breakthrough.
  • The Biden administration is concerned about the slow pace of the talks.

Why is the US delaying troops withdrawal?

  • The US assessment is that if American troops are pulled out of Afghanistan, the Taliban would make quick gains.
  • So, the Biden administration’s believes that the Taliban are on the ascent.
  • It hopes that the best way to prevent a complete Taliban takeover is a regional peace process and an interim unity government.
  • The Taliban are yet to respond to America’s proposal.

What is the Afghan government’s stand?

  • The Ghani administration has consistently been critical of the US’s direct outreach to the Taliban.
  • The Trump administration held direct talks with the Taliban, excluding the government.
  • Later, Washington put pressure on Kabul to release Taliban prisoners as part of an agreement it reached with the insurgents.
  • Even when the Doha talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were underway, Mr Ghani made it clear that he, as elected President, is the only legitimate representative of the Afghan people.
  • He resisted making concessions to the Taliban.

India’s position in the process

  • Since the Afghan peace process began two years ago, India’s role in it has been peripheral at best.
  • Our EAM has iterated India’s long-held support for an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, and Afghan-controlled” peace process.

What lies ahead

  • While the Afghan government’s opposition to sharing power with the Taliban is well known, it is not clear whether Mr Ghani could continue to resist American pressure.
  • And if the Biden administration decides to stick to the Taliban deal and withdraw troops by May, Mr Ghani would be in a tougher spot.
  • The people of Afghanistan do not have any good options. If Ghani rejects the American offer, the war will continue forever.
  • The Taliban have already taken over much of the country’s hinterlands and are breathing down the neck of its cities.
  • Either way, the Taliban are set to make gains.
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