From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Not much
Mains level : Paper 2- Implications of situation in Afghanistan for India
The rapid fall of Afghanistan after the withdrawal of the US sent shockwaves across the region.
Cause of concern for India
- The Taliban’s entry into Kabul, marks the beginning of a new phase in the relationship between Afghanistan and India.
- Recent developments in South Asia certainly point to a recurring dynamic between Afghanistan and India.
- The restoration of Taliban rule in Afghanistan with Pakistan’s support undoubtedly presents some very serious potential challenges for Indian security.
- However, a measure of strategic patience could help India cope with the adverse developments in Afghanistan and find ways to secure its interests in the near future.
- For India, a bigger question mark will be about the Taliban’s renewed support for international terrorism and Pakistan’s re-direction of jihadi groups that have allegedly fought with the Taliban towards India.
Afghanistan from 1979 to 2001 and how it changed the subcontinent
- At the end of 1979, the Soviet Union launched a massive military invasion to protect a communist regime in Kabul.
- The US and Pakistan responded by unleashing a religious jihad that compelled Russia to withdraw by 1989.
- Pakistan’s critical role in the Afghan war against Russia allowed Pakistan to secure the political cover for the country’s acquisition of nuclear weapons.
- The Pakistan army turned the jihadi armies to gain control of Afghanistan and launched a proxy war against India, especially in the Punjab and Kashmir regions.
- The turbulence of the 1990s saw deepening conflict between India and Pakistan.
- Al Qaeda, hosted by the Taliban, launched terror attacks against the US on September 11, 2001.
- Swift US retribution brought an end to Taliban rule and compelled Pakistan to reconsider its policies.
- After 2001, there has also been a significant expansion of the India-US strategic partnership.
- By the end of the decade, though, the Pakistan Army had swung back to its default positions — renewed support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.
- Pakistan also teased an increasingly war-weary Washington into a negotiation with the Taliban for a peace settlement.
Way forward for India
- Patience: Like all radical groups, the Taliban will have trouble balancing its religious ideology with the imperatives of state interests.
- India would want to carefully watch how this tension plays out.
- Watch the relation between Pakistan and Taliban: Equally important is the nature of the relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan.
- The Taliban is bound to seek a measure of autonomy from Pakistan, India will have to wait.
- Prepare for cross-border terror: India must fully prepare for a renewal of cross-border terror, but there is a lot less global acceptance of terrorism today than in the permissive 1990s.
- No major power would like to see Afghanistan re-emerge as a global sanctuary of terror.
- The world has also imposed significant new constraints on Pakistan’s support for terror through mechanisms like the Financial Action Task Force.
- Unlike in the 1990s, when Delhi simply absorbed the terror attacks, it now shows the political will to retaliate forcefully.
- Regional geopolitical alignment: It is also important to note that the US and the West will continue to have a say in shaping the international attitudes towards the new regime.
- The Taliban and Pakistan appear to be acutely conscious of this reality.
For a patient, open-minded and active India, there will be no dearth of balancing opportunities in Afghanistan.