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Major Powers Recognition Of Afghan Taliban Regime 2.0 Needs To Be Put On Deep Freeze – Analysis

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Contextually, strong imperatives exist for Major Powers led by United States to “Freeze Recognition” of Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime as what exists in Kabul in September 2021is not an Afghan Government elected by “Free & Fair Elections” but a Fundamentalist Islamist “Regime” imposed by force on hapless Afghan people by the China-Pakistan Axis.

Not by any stretch of imagination does the Islamist “Regime” fulfil the basic fundamentals for ‘diplomatic recognition’ or ‘governmental engagement’ by Major Powers or their allies and strategic partners. It would also be incredulous for Major Powers to conclude that the Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime would in reasonable time emerge as a ‘Nation’ worthy of trust by the international community and be at peace with itself and its regional neighbourhood.

Only three countries have reposed trust in Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime right since its walk-in into Kabul vacated by United States Military Forces. China, Pakistan and Russia have long supported pushing a Taliban Regime into Kabul in the pursuit of inflicting a geopolitical setback to United States and to insure their borders, contiguous or by extension, to spill-overs of Islamist Terror groups likely to raise their profile in a Talibanised Afghanistan.

China and Pakistan have not only succeeded in their aims but have gone two steps ahead this week in creating and exploiting divisions within the conglomerate of various Afghan Taliban groups by a ‘political coup’ wherein the more acceptable face of the Afghan Taliban group, namely, the Doha Group had to abdicate their expected control of key Taliban 2.0 Regime in terms of Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Defence Minister and Interior Minister.

The Doha Group of Afghan Taliban politically legitimised by the United States as Taliban interlocutors and with probable less ‘Hard Line’ inclinations and assessed by all in weeks following August 15 2021 to assume key appointments have since been displaced and eased out under China and Pakistan pressures. 

 The Doha Group that had been engaged in Peace Dialogues with the United States at Doha stand replaced by ‘Hard Line’ Afghan Taliban leaders who for years have been colluding with Pakistan Army ISI in undermining  the United States presence in Afghanistan by terrorist attacks and suicide bombings even after the Doha Accord.. More than half of these new China-Pakistan Axis Taliban favourites’ stand designated by UN Security Council as global Islamist terrorists.

In what may be not having a precedent in history is that the Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime as per media coverage is predominantly dominated by Taliban leaders with known and recorded terrorism credentials.

Like men are judged by the company they keep so are nations too needed to be judged likewise? China, Pakistan and Russia by endorsing the Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime in Kabul get perceptionaly type-casted as strategic patrons of global Islamist terrorism?

Even if that be so, can the Major Powers including Asia’s Major Powers like India and Japan, all democracies, be seen as extending recognition to Regime headed by globally designated terrorists?

This ‘political coup’ by China Pakistan Axis exploiting hard-line divisions within the Afghan Taliban hierarchy was executed by the simultaneous arrival of Pakistan Army DG ISI and a Chinese Intelligence Team in Kabul around August 05 2021. 

Without going deep into the various diplomatic and legal theories of State and government recognition or ‘de facto’ and ‘de jure’ recognition or by pernicious theories of emergence of belligerent or insurgent regimes, it can be safely asserted that Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime does not qualify for any recognition based on fundamental criteria followed by international conventions.

The Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime “legitimacy” needs to be analysed on four fundamental principles of the accepted ‘Attributes of the State’ and which are (1) PEOPLE. Do the vast majority of the people repose faith and trust in the Government. (2) TERRITORY Does the Government have effective control over the whole of the country (3) GOVERNMENT. Does the Government have the administrative capacity to ensue effective governance and ensure peace and stability, and (4) SOVEREIGNTY. Does the Government have the cohesive and effective instruments of State to protect the sovereignty of the country?

On all these counts it can be fairly assessed that Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime does not qualify for any legally or diplomatic designated recognition of being the “Legal Government” or even the ‘Effective Government’ of Afghanistan in 2021, or the foreseeable future.

Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime has acquired power in Kabul NOT on the strength of Afghan people’s popular political support based on ‘Free and Fair Elections’. Afghan Taliban have been “placed in power” by the China-Pakistan Axis. Afghan Taliban groups which are subservient to China’s and Pakistan intelligence agencies “usurped” power in Kabul with the weight of their ‘Terrorism Coercion’ strategies amplified by United States hasty vacation of Kabul and Bagram.

Latest visuals emanating from Afghanistan show that the Afghan people and more notably Afghan women are out on the streets in political protests unmindful of Taliban brutal suppression. The so-called ‘New & Reformed Talban’ being marketed by China and Pakistan has already manifested their brutal suppression.

This trend of political discontent with the Taliban 2.0 Regime can be expected to intensify in coming months as the newer generation in Afghanistan reared under US protection with democratic rights in Afghanistan are unlikely to yield to Taliban coercive control.

In terms of territorial control, the entire Afghan Territory cannot be said to be under effective control of Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime. The only effective territories that can be said to be under effective control of Taliban 2,0 Regime are the Pashtun Areas contiguous to Pakistan where Pakistan Army can directly assist the present Kabul Regime. Remainder of Afghanistan is volatile and in ferment. 

In terms of ‘Political Legitimacy’ Afghanistan under Taliban 2.0 Regime today dos not qualify to have a ‘Legitimate Government’ in Kabul. It is a misnomer to call it the Interim Government’ as China and Pakistan would like the world to believe. What China and Pakistan have imposed in Kabul is a “Fundamentalist Islamist Regime” which can neither be expected to gain political legitimacy in the eyes of the vast majority of Afghan people nor be expected to acquire political legitimacy in the global comity of nations. The Taliban has not changed nor have China and Pakistan any inclination to reform their Taliban protégés as that would be detrimental to their respective strategic ends.

 In terms of Governmental administrative capabilities, the Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime is woefully deficient or even willing to co-opt expertise from outside their fold for effective governance. Remnants of admistrative machinery inherited are in a traumatic state and either incapable or unwilling to contribute effective governance experience to what they perceive as an illegitimate usrurpist regime.

Sovereignty of Afghanistan under Afghan Taliban2.0 Regime will be sorely tested by contentious political forces both internally and externally. What we are witnessing today is only the use of Taliban Irregulars “policing” Afghanistan on the strength of their ill-obtained automatic weapons and their terrorism credentials of fear.

Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime has inadequate military capacity to defend the Sovereignty of the State was starkly evident when it had to rely on Pakistan Army Special Forces airdrops and Pakistan Attack helicopters & drones to penetrate the Panjshir Valley.

It would be erroneous to assume that the vast weaponry that United States abandoned to the Taliban would make the Taliban 2.0 Regime militarily strong. In all probability vast amounts of such military hardware would be misappropriated by Pakistan Army as quid pro quo for support of Taliban Regime and some taken by China for reverse engineering. 

In coming months one can expect more regional eruptions challenging the self-proclaimed Sovereignty over Afghanistan of the Taliban2.0 Regime. Without Chinese and Pakistani militany support and a new Taliban NDSF not readily taking shape the Taliban Regime 2.0 will remain under constant siege.

The sovereignty of Afghanistan and its territorial integrity will be sorely challenged in the coming months and any Pakistani or Chinese assistance except for Afghan territory contiguous to Pakistan and China will be limited in extent and nature.

With the above contextual backdrop and with no optimistic signs of Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime attempting to make political control of Afghanistan ‘More Inclusive’ and ‘More Representative’, the political situation and resultant military situation in the mid-term future is likely to persist as  CONFLICTUAL, CONTENTIOUS, VOLATILE & UNCERTAIN.

Resultantly, despite China and Pakistan supporting the Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime to the hilt, a besieged Taliban 2.0 Regime will start exhibiting all the manifestations of a “Siege Mentality” resulting in greater internal suppression and external belligerence whose chief weapon would be Global Islamist Terrorism.

Should then the Major Powers led by United States be indulging Afghanistan in an exercise in futility? Should the international community be extending diplomatic recognition or even official engagement with Taliban 2.0 Regime whose hold and control of Afghanistan is dependent on China and Pakistan? Should not the Major Powers be more concerned with ways and means short of war to bring about a ‘regime change’ in Kabul before Taliban Regime 2.0 re-incarnates itself into a ‘Threat to Global Peace?

Concluding, what therefore emerges as inescapable imperatives for Major Powers led by United States is the need to recognise that not only must Recognition of Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime is placed in “Deep Freeze” but also that unitedly they must coordinate their efforts to  free Afghanistan from the medieval clutches of Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime by all methods ‘Short of War’ namely,— economic sanctions including those on Pakistan, freezing of financial assets ,and denying access to  global financial institutions.

The Major Powers should revise the benchmarks for diplomatic recognition of Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime from ‘’Counter-terrorism criteria of denying Afghan territory to Islamist Groups, Inclusive Government and Women’s Rights to the most basic criteria that Taliban Regime 2.0 needs to conduct under international supervision ‘Free & Fair Elections” as per existing Afghan Constitution, without violence and coercion. This new criteria would be a Verifiable Criteria.

Short of that, Afghan Taliban 2.0 Regime needs to be diplomatically isolated.

Further, any humanitarian aid to Afghanistan should be made be contingent on the above criteria. If Taliban 2.0 Regime does not accede to Major Powers’ demands let humanitarian aid too be provided solely by China, Pakistan and Russia who have imposed such a Regime on Afghanistan.

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Dr. Subhash Kapila

Dr Subhash Kapila combines a rich and varied professional experience of Indian Army Brigadier ( Veteran), diplomatic assignments in the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Bhutan. Served in India's Cabinet Secretariat also. He is a Graduate of Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley, UK, Msc Defence Studies from Madras University and a Doctorate in Strategic Studies from Allahabad University. Papers have been presented by him in International Seminars in Japan,Turkey, Russia and Vietnam. Credited to him are over 1,500 Papers on geopolitical & strategic topical issues and foreign policies of USA, Japan, India, China and Indo Pacific Asia. He has authored two Books : "India's Defence Policies & Strategic Thought: A Comparative Analysis" and "China-India Military Confrontation: 21st Century Perspectives"

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