Foreign Policy Watch: India-Afghanistan

[op-ed snap] Free fall: On the Afghan conflict


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Afghan peace process


A recent suicide attack at a crowded wedding hall in Kabul killed at least 63 people and injured more than 180 others. It is a tragic reminder of the security situation in Afghanistan.


  1. The blast is claimed by the local arm of the Islamic State. It occurred at a time when the U.S. and the Taliban are preparing to announce a peace agreement to end the 18-year-long conflict.
  2. It’s now a three-way conflict in Afghanistan — the government, the Taliban insurgents and the global terrorists.
  3. The Afghan government is fighting to preserve the existing system that offers a semblance of democracy. But it failed in ensuring the safety and security of the people.
  4. The Taliban controls the mountainous hinterlands and wants to expand its reach to the urban centers.
  5. IS declared a province (Khorasan) in eastern Afghanistan and has emerged as the third player. Attacks against civilians, especially the Shia minority, is the central part of its brutal military tactics. Afghanistan’s Hazara Shias were the target of the wedding hall bombing.
  6. IS has demonstrated an ability to survive and strike in Afghanistan despite the U.S.’s heavy air campaign in the east.

Afghanistan peace deal:

  1. U.S. is ready to pull troops from Afghanistan in return for assurances from the Taliban that they will not allow the Afghan soil to be used by transnational terrorists such as the IS and al-Qaeda.
  2. But the Taliban’s intentions are hardly clear. It ran most of Afghanistan according to its puritanical interpretation of Islamic law from 1996 to 2001.
  3. There are chances that it turns against Kabul once the Americans are out and the country may plunge into a multi-party civil war as it did after the Soviet Union pulled out in 1989.

Way ahead :

  1. Taliban and the government should have their own peace talks and settle differences. It would allow both sides to rechannel their resources to fighting terrorist groups.
  2. The international community should strengthen the hands of the Kabul government against all kinds of terrorists, before seeking a settlement with the insurgents.
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