After 9/11 India advanced its political and economic interest in Afghanistan. The major objective of India was to support the Kabul government in order to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become the heaven of Pakistan’s sponsor factions. After the fall of the Taliban regime, India opened an embassy in Kabul and consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad. It latter opened consulates in Herat and Mazar Sharif. India made a lot of investment in order to strengthen its proxies against Pakistan. The basic purpose of Indian partnership with Kabul government was to block the way of Taliban to Kabul.
Indian’s Afghanistan policy is not subject to any ideology or socio-political concern. It is concerned with the desire to immediate or at least limit Pakistan’s influence over Kabul. Increase in Islamabad’s presence in Afghanistan directly marginalizes the Indian position in Afghanistan.
Indian failure in Afghanistan is inevitable due to lack of material capacities, religious differences, and lack of geographical contiguity. Indian has made 2 billion dollar investment in Afghanistan for infrastructure development and opening of consulates across the battle-weary country. India requires partner both inside and outside Afghanistan to protect his regional interest and investment in wore torn country.
In 1980s India support communist interest in Afghanistan. In the 1990s, Northern alliance gain financial and military support from Iran and India. The latest working partnership of India is continuing with the Kabul government and US. The major purpose of Indian’s sizeable investment and intelligent footprint in Afghanistan is to counter the pro-Pakistani groups i.e., Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network.
Now the situation of India is getting worse after a successful peace deal between Taliban and US. Taliban are making direct negotiations with Iran, China, US and Russia. India is heading toward another crisis because of the credibility of the Kabul government which is at an all-time low since 9/11. India thinks the peace deal is only for save exit of US. Rise of the Taliban as a political party would not a favourable commodity for India.
Kabul government has failed to curb the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani group. Strong Existence of both factions in Afghanistan is dangerous for Indian interest in the country. Taliban in Afghanistan are wiser and prudence as compared to before. Taliban are dealing directly with international key players. India’s dilemma is reaching at its peak after a successful negotiation between the US and Taliban.
War fatigue and geopolitical interest in Afghanistan, many countries are accepting the Afghan Taliban as a legitimate position. All neighbours countries are making negotiations indirect or another way, for one reason or another.
India is the only country that seems to on losing end. Historical, the previous Taliban regime was anti-Indian. It was because Indian shared hostility with the Taliban by military support to the northern alliance to keep the pressure on the Taliban.
Indian anxiety over peace deal seems to be a fact. India provided 750 million dollars in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan but has been left out from peace talks. Indian grimes and grievances are natural because this peace deal was made possible by Pakistan.
Many political analysts accept that Pakistan’s patience investment is paid off. After the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan, China will become dominate player of the region. China wants to secure belt and road initiative and the western route of CPEC by dealing with the Afgan Taliban.
India has reached to its weakest position in subject to her relation with Afghanistan. The meeting between China, US, Russia, Pakistan was held on 12 July. This meeting was a dramatic development in the peace settlement process in Afghanistan. Participants of negation signalled their intention to speed up the peace process in Afghanistan to final settlement. After negotiations, Zalmay Khalilzad twitted that “We also agreed that violence needs to slow now and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire should start with intra-Afghan negotiations. We agreed we will expand and ask more international partners to join with the start of negotiations. Very positive,”
Big three powers acknowledged that Pakistan is the only country that can play a key role in facilitating peace in Afghanistan. Washington and western countries have no option but to depend on Pakistan to ensure Afghanistan not to become a “manufacturing lab of terrorist” (words of Donald Trump).
By Saif Ullah Rumi
M.Phil Political Science