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An Indian Political Alignment With Afghan Taliban? – OpEd

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The realist school of thought wisely said that man is selfish by nature. There are no permanent friends and foes in international relations. One cannot any country for long in international relations. Talks are the ultimate solution for any conflict. The Taliban are a reality now in Afghanistan. They are the ruling elite in the country. No country can negate this reality. They have defeated world’s strongest military forces and captured Kabul last year. International community must brace itself to deal with the Islamic administration in Afghanistan. There are so many take away from the fall of Kabul as few countries are taking political benefits out of it while many are struggling to find their foot prints in the land-lock country. India has been one of the countries, who is at the losing end. New Delhi had strong and close political, economic and strategic bonding with Western-backed Afghan government of Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani. India used both former Presidents Ghani and Karzai to accomplish its objectives, be it political or strategic. India engaged former Afghan rulers to destabilize Pakistan and extending financial help to anti-Pakistan elements. 

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Unfortunately, the previous successive Afghan governments graciously helped India to malign Pakistan and creating anti-Pakistan sentiments inside and outside Afghanistan. The former Afghan rulers, at India’s behest, had maligned Pakistan at different international forums, accusing Islamabad of supporting Taliban and weakening Afghan government. It is pertinent to mention here that all this was done over flimsy grounds and to praise their political pundits sitting in New Delhi. Despite this joint propaganda by India and Afghanistan, Pakistan always helped Afghanistan with open hearts especially to serve the people of Afghanistan, who have been suffering terribly due to the US-led war against terror in the country. After spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan, India’s streak of anti-Pakistan activities has been broken now. It is, however, at the losing end right now since the arrival of Taliban in the helm of affairs in the country. 

After boycotting Taliban’s negotiation with American administration, the Indian government has now started engaging with Afghan Taliban in order to have political engagements with them. So far, it doesn’t seem optimistic about its ties with Afghan Taliban. While on the other hand, the Taliban has asked India to open its diplomatic presence in the country and restart work on the incomplete projects inside the country. As far as international relations are concerned, this is a good omen. The Taliban are now trying to change their governance model and presenting themselves moderate this time around as compare to their previous rule back in 1990s. 

India has always viewed the Taliban as a proxy of its archival Pakistan and also maintained close ties with the northern alliance against Taliban. Historically speaking, the Northern Alliance had remained against Pakistani role in Afghanistan. First visit of Indian delegation led by J P Singh, the External Affairs Ministry’s Joint Secretary to Kabul and desire to reopen its embassy equates to official recognition of Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The Taliban regime is a hurdle in the way of Indian support to anti-Pakistan terrorist activities using Afghan soil therefore New Delhi is all set to give a legitimate cover to her ulterior motives for having good ties with Afghanistan. Recently, an Indian channel CNN-News18 conducted an interview of Afghan Defence Minister Mullah Yaqoob. During interview, Indian anchor tried to ask mischievous questions related to Pakistan and its relationship with Taliban regime but to anchor’s disappointment Afghan Minister positively replied about Pakistan. During anti-Pakistan and India-friendly Afghan governments of the past, New Delhi had free reign to arm and finance terrorists groups to carry out subversive activities against Pakistan. India was among the most eager nations that closed their missions in Afghanistan while leaving behind friendly Afghanistan in chaotic conditions.

Pakistan, putting aside animosity, has granted India permission to send wheat and lifesaving medicines to Afghanistan through Wagah Border on exceptional basis (without paying customs, duties or other fees) for humanitarian purposes. Indian efforts to gain its influence in Afghanistan are aimed at preventing Pakistan’s influence in Afghanistan. World must know the heinous designs and intentions of Indian ruling elite against Pakistan. There is a need to highlight India’s role as a spoiler in Afghanistan and the region. In this context, Indian efforts to project Pakistan as an aggressor and exploitation of situation in Afghanistan has clear been exposed now. Both Indian Media and government are still actively working to malign Pakistan’s positive role in Afghanistan especially in the aftermath of fall of Kabul. In wake of Taliban takeover, Indian TV channels broadcast video purporting to show Pakistani aircraft attacking Panjshir but in reality, the video was depicting American jets flying in Wales.  It is high time for the international community to keep close watch on the spoilers of peace in Afghanistan. Indian government will try to destabilize Afghanistan in order to accomplish its strategic objectives. 

The writer is Islamabad based expert of Strategic Affairs. 

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