The China-Taliban Romance and Its Implications in South Asian Politics
As by the end of this month, United States of America (USA) will complete its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan- the ‘Graveyard of Empires’, it will produce a ‘Saigon Moment’ once again. This ‘Saigon Moment’ will mark the Taliban as the victor of the decade long conflict. However, as the USA is withdrawing troops without producing any internal solution in Afghanistan, a void has been created. Meanwhile, in the absence of the USA, China is opting for filling this void by patronizing the Taliban and providing reconstruction and development assistance. For Taliban, as it is emerging as the sole victor in Afghanistan, it needs foreign assistance to defeat remaining internal militia forces and to pave way forward towards reconstruction. Moreover, acceptance from global powers such as China and Russia will also help Taliban in gaining legitimacy in global arena. Since last month, high level meetings between Taliban and China have taken place and both parties now enjoying warm cooperation. Taliban have cleared their stance on Uyghur as it is China’s internal matter and reaffirmed that, it will not tolerate ‘Anti-China’ activities in Afghan soil. At this point, it is clear that, China will be the power to fill up the void left by USA and will be highly proactive in future Afghanistan. However, as the romance between China and Taliban is brewing, it will surely have various implications on South Asian Politics in coming days.
The Sino- Taliban relations will surely impact the Sino-Indian rivalry as China’s presence in Afghanistan will create skepticism for India as a new ‘encircling’ front. The Indian skepticism about China’s encirclement of India is known to all. For the last two decades, due to US presence, India had least worry about the Afghan front. But now, India will have to counter China in a new front alongside other fronts. Though, Taliban previously assured India that, they will adopt their foreign policy independently which will remain out of Chinese influence, the reality begs to differ and suggest that, in the coming days, India will have to counter Afghan front alongside all other fronts in the ‘Encirclement’ game.
Like India, interestingly this romance will also affect Pakistan. Pakistan and Taliban are not in good term due to Taliban’s sponsorship to Tehrik-i-Taliban, a Pakistani counterpart of Taliban and other domestic terrorist groups in Pakistan. Moreover, the impact of Afghan conflict directly impacts Pakistan more than anyone. In this case, the later insurgencies and counter insurgencies of Afghan politics will also affect Pakistan directly. Hence, in the coming days, Sino-Pakistan relations will also be impacted by this romance as it will renew worries for Pakistan.
Back in China, the relations will further protract the ‘Uyghur’ issue and ‘isolate’ Xinjiang province. Taliban has already cleared their stance on Uyghur as China’s internal matter. Moreover, Taliban has also promised China that, it will not allow East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) to use Afghan soil against China. ETIM is a terrorist organization and it wants to separate Xinjiang province and create new state called ‘East Turkestan’. It operates in Afghan-China border region and has history of launching attacks in Xinjiang. ETIM is mostly based in Northern Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. As a part of bilateral understanding, Taliban also promised recently that, it will not allow Uyghur separatists in Afghanistan anymore. Several reports also claim that, Taliban has already tightened the Afghan-China border security and will not allow Uyghur population to pass through. On the other hand, in Pakistan, government has also tightened their border security to prevent Uyghur movement. Both Pakistan and Afghanistan border were considered as ‘escape’ route for Uyghur. But as the both borders are sealed in favor of China, it will result in further isolation and protraction of the Xinjiang province and its Uyghur populations. Isolation of the entire province will also decrease the flow of information about the ongoing activities in the region. As a result, Xinjiang may end up being the ‘New Tibet’ in coming future.
And last but not the least, it will revive terrorism once again especially in South Asia. Since 1990s, Taliban model served as the ‘role model’ for terrorism in South Asia. Since 1990s, countries including Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Maldives are facing homegrown terrorist problems. Sri Lanka is also facing threats at present. Most of them were influenced by Taliban and many terrorists were allegedly taken part in Taliban Training camps. Since then, these countries initiated countering terrorism and successfully reduced terrorism to minimum. But in current context, Bangladesh’s Jamiatul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Neo-JMB, India’s Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harkatul Mujahideen, Pakistan’s Jaish-e-Mohammad, Al Qaeda, Tehrik-e-Taliban will once again find motivation from this Taliban victory and Chinese patronization. Moreover, apart from terrorist organizations, these relations will also once again motivate extremist political Islam organizations such as Bangladesh’s Jamat e lslam, Hefajat-e-Islam and Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Labbaik. For these organizations, Taliban will serve as a success story in both establishing Sharia Law and achieving legitimacy in global arena, just like 1990s when extremists celebrated the Taliban as a ‘role model’. As a result, in coming days, fundamentalist will find more space in this region and will challenge ‘secularism’ to the core resulting in violent conflicts and communalism in practice.
China’s romance with Taliban will surely bring new equations in politics in this region, especially in South Asia in the context of QUAD versus BRI stalemate and Sino-Indian rivalry. But it will also impact China’s traditional ally, Pakistan as Pakistan is already struggling with countering terrorism for more than a decade. However, it will also benefit Pakistan economically as in the coming days, due to Afghanistan’s land locked geography and China’s CPEC project, Afghanistan will more likely to increase trade relations with Pakistan. On the other hand, it will bring China and India face to face in a new front where India will have to counter directly. Moreover, this relation will also allow China to suppress the Uyghur issue by isolating and blocking Xinjiang, Uyghur escape and information transfer resulting in a ‘New Tibet’. But for other parts of the region, it will bring cloud of fundamentalism revitalizing the extremist and terrorist organizations now operating at a minimum capacity. Therefore, in the coming days, the whole region will face a complex multilayered situation with new ‘Sino-Taliban’ equation.
The Taliban’s Loss of Popular Support in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is currently facing an unprecedented crisis due to the Taliban’s takeover of the country in August 2021. Despite initially claiming to have widespread support from the Afghan population, reports from within the country now suggest that the Taliban’s grip on power is increasingly fragile. The Taliban’s regime has been marked by egregious human rights violations, economic hardship, lack of inclusivity, international isolation, and brutal tactics during the war, all of which have contributed to their diminishing popularity. The people of Afghanistan continue to suffer under the oppressive rule of the Taliban, and urgent action is needed to address the humanitarian crisis and restore stability to the region.
One of the most pressing issues facing Afghanistan under the Taliban is the economic crisis that has emerged in the wake of their takeover. The country is facing inflation, food shortages, and job losses, all of which are having a significant impact on the lives of ordinary Afghans. The prices for basic goods such as flour and sugar have skyrocketed and many families are struggling to afford even one meal a day. In 2022, many reports emerged that people are selling their kidneys to feed their families.
The Taliban has struggled to revive the economy, and their policies have not been effective in addressing the economic crisis. According to the New York Times, “the Taliban’s financial plan relies heavily on the illicit drug trade, a strategy that may provide some short-term gains but will ultimately lead to greater instability and economic hardship for ordinary Afghans.”
Human Rights Violations
The Taliban’s history of human rights violations, particularly their treatment of women and girls, has also contributed to their loss of popular support in Afghanistan. The Taliban has a reputation for imposing strict restrictions on women’s rights, including banning girls from attending school and requiring women to wear burqas in public. Various media outlets report suggest that women and girls have been virtually invisible in public since the Taliban took over. The Taliban has also used violence against civilians, including women and children who raised voice for their rights. We see constant demonstrations against ban on girls’ education in Kabul and Taliban use to suppress them by using force. No one is allowed to held a protest against the Taliban repressive policies.
Lack of Inclusivity
The Taliban’s government has been criticized for its lack of inclusivity and representation of Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic, political and religious groups. The Taliban is dominated by Pashtuns, and there are concerns that other groups may be marginalized or excluded from political participation. No previous polit al leaders who are in politics for decades is a part of the new set up. Taliban have imposed a narrow interpretation of Islam that does not reflect the country’s diversity and tolerance as well as equal opportunities to men and women. The Taliban’s cabinet is made up entirely of men, and there are no non-Pashtuns or Shia Muslims in key positions.
The Taliban’s return to power has resulted in international isolation, with several countries imposing sanctions and restrictions on the Taliban regime. This has limited the Taliban’s ability to access international aid and resources, which has further exacerbated the economic crisis in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reports that “the Taliban’s international isolation is exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan,” and that “the country desperately needs international aid to address its economic woes and provide basic services to its people.” Unless the Taliban bring a change to their repressive policies, they will remain isolated in the international community.
Taliban’s Tactics During the War
The Taliban’s tactics during the war against US-led NATO and ISAF forces, including their use of suicide bombings and targeting of civilians, have also contributed to their loss of popular support among Afghans who have been affected by the violence. The New York Times reported in September 2021 that “the Taliban’s brutal tactics during the war have left a legacy of fear and trauma among the Afghan people.” Many Afghans are deeply distrustful of the Taliban because of the group’s violent tactics during the war and the atrocities they committed against civilians. The Taliban’s reputation as a violent and extremist group has made it difficult for them to gain the trust and support of the Afghan population.
Addressing the Issues
The Taliban faces a significant challenge in regaining the trust and support of the Afghan people. They will need to address the economic crisis, provide basic services to the population, and create an inclusive government that represents Afghanistan’s diverse ethnic, political and religious groups. They will also need to address human rights concerns especially women rights and restore the rule of law. Also, they will need to make significant concessions if they hope to regain the trust of the Afghan people and the international community. They need to create a more stable and predictable environment for the Afghan people if they hope to build a functioning state. The Taliban has taken some steps to address these concerns, including pledging to respect women’s rights and promising to form an inclusive government. However, the effectiveness of these measures remains to be seen.
The Taliban’s loss of popular support in Afghanistan is a significant challenge for the group as they seek to govern the country. Economic hardship, human rights violations, women rights, lack of inclusivity, international isolation, and the Taliban’s tactics during the war have all contributed to their declining popularity. The Taliban will need to address these issues if they hope to regain the trust and support of the Afghan people and build a functioning state. The Taliban’s future depends on their ability to govern effectively and address the concerns of the Afghan people. If they fail to do so, they risk losing the support of the population and facing significant challenges in the years to come. It remains to be seen whether the Taliban can rise to this challenge and create a stable and prosperous Afghanistan for all its citizens.
India’s G20 Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities
The global community has experienced significant disruption, since 2020, due to COVID-19 pandemic. The isolationist economic policies of several powerful Western nations, who drifted away from their erstwhile global approach during Covid-pandemic, compounded its profound impact on the global economy. The economic instability further exacerbated, owing to growing Sino-US rivalry, coupled with Russia-Ukraine conflict, having roots in their intensions to enhance their respective strategic interests in global arena. Despite these challenges, India was successful in shielding its economy from the effects of this disruption. Considering India’s vast population and geographical diversity, this achievement assumes great significance. To India’s credit, it not only managed the pandemic effectively, within its borders, but also selflessly extended assistance to other nations.
The assumption of G20 presidency by India in 2023 offers it a significant opportunity to prove its potential and commitment to global affairs in economic arena. In the recent past, the G20, a leading economic forum, that brings together the world’s leading economies to discuss global economic issue, has been dominated by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, overshadowing the grave concerns on contemporary issues, including climate change, poverty, proliferation of nuclear weapons and Supply chain problems amongst others. It cannot be gainsaid that neglect of such issues has gravely affected the economies of Global South, of which India is a key player. India’s renewed pragmatic foreign policy helped it to take this issue with the Western powers during regular bilateral exchanges/mini-lateral forums.
India’s global footprint expanded under the assertive foreign policy pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It is evident in India’s proactive engagement with various multilateral forums, including I2U2 (Israel, India, US &UAE), the QUAD (India, Japan, US and Australia) and the SCO. Simultaneously, India’s increasing vocal approach of raising its concerns with the Western powers and aligning itself more closely with the Global South, further yielded the desired outcomes. India has the chance to play an important role in strengthening global architecture and governance on major international economic issues, as it takes the lead in shaping the G20’s priorities.
As an exhibition of inclusivity as well as in conformity with India’s G20 motto ‘’One Earth, One Family, One Future’’, India, ahead of G20 Finance Ministers and Foreign Ministers meet, organized (January 12) the ‘Voice of Global South Summit’, to ensure the concurrence of Global South states on relevant issues. It showcases India’s responsible and effective leadership for the Global South, in addressing their concerns. PM Modi has often reaffirmed that India’s G20 agenda will be inclusive, ambitious, decisive, and action-oriented. In the prevailing state of global disorder, India is well-positioned to take the challenge of bringing the international actors, together, India’s persistent goodwill and deft diplomacy are key tools in helping it accomplish this objective. India emerges as a natural mediator because of its cordial relations with the majority of G20 nations and allows it to gently push forward the states in disagreement towards a consensus and jointly work towards a better world.
The global community is confronted with complex and sensitive challenges that needs a nuanced approach. Fortunately, India is uniquely positioned to initiate discussions on a range of issues, including nuclear weapons usage, the role of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and need to revisit the existing economic system. In the backdrop of rising tensions between global players and receding democracies across the world, India’s potential to prioritize human security over military security and promote democratic values cannot be gainsaid, particularly owing to its ancient traditions and pursuance of Gandhian ideology.
With regard to the recently held G20 foreign ministers meeting, there was a certain degree of optimism over the joint communique, however, some observers who ardently follow the geopolitical developments with critic’s eye were even ready to accept the fact that there may not be any desired outcome from the event. As anticipated, the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting failed to forge consensus on a joint communique. The failure is attributed to the sharp differences between Russia-China camp and the US-led West camp over Russia-Ukraine war. However, despite all the constraints, India as the Chair of the meet was able to garner a major achievement by getting the ministers to come up with an ‘Outcome’ document. It was the first ever document/statement exhibiting that the group had achieved consensus on broader issues. Washington, marking its calibrated step forward, backed Delhi’s statement as a product of consensus on a variety of issues, which was put out by India, as the G 20 Chair.
India’s foreign minister S Jaishankar clarified that there was consensus on 95% of the issues except on two paragraphs, related to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. In this backdrop, India can pat itself in succeeding to bring out an outcome document from a forum that hosts major international players, entangled in many contentious issues, while simultaneously vouching for the concerns of the Global South. Meanwhile, India diplomacy ensured to utilize the event for engaging in bilateral/mini-lateral meetings with the leading powers viz. US, China, Russia as well as the QUAD. Resorting to its full diplomatic clout, India took initiative to bring close the polarized powers and make them understand each other’s concern to find a common ground.
The questions were constantly being raised over the effectiveness of G-20 forum mainly attributed to its repeated failure to forge a consensus over a particular conflict at the cost of neglecting the other broader issues pertaining to the Global South. This scenario may prompt developing economies to skip the forum and vouch for more assertive alternative framework. For India, it is crucial that despite the existing differences, it continues to work, ahead of the annual meeting (September 2023) of G20 leaders, towards bringing all the member States on the same page. The first step towards achieving this goal may be to engage all member nations in constructive dialogue to understand their concerns and reach out to the countries, having different perspectives. This exercise will certainly help India, identify areas of common ground and make efforts to work jointly towards developing mutually beneficial solutions.
The shared values and interests of the G20 nations should be the driver of Indian initiatives as G-20 Chair. It is a fact that all member nations share a commitment to promoting economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction, despite existing differences over few issues in line with their strategic interests. The focus on common goals can help India, build consensus on important issues and promote cooperation among member nations.
India, enjoying the status of, a leader in the global South can leverage its position, to promote greater engagement and cooperation among G20 nations. India has successfully overcome the developmental challenges and pursues an exclusive approach towards issues being confronted by the developing countries. It can offer to share its experiences and knowledge to curtail the gaps between developed and developing economies by forging better understanding and cooperation.
India, certainly faces a daunting task to bring together all the G20 member States on a common platform with shared goals and benefits, but India can ill afford to ignore the challenge to promote economic growth and development among member countries. In order to realize desired outcome from its presidency of G20, India should persist with its engagement in constructive dialogue through multilateral forums/platforms along with initiatives, which could help promote global economic cooperation. It needs to highlight the shared values and interests and push aside the contentious issues, adversely impacting the economic progress. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) as global Institutions play a crucial role in harnessing global economic growth and stability. India, in collaboration with G20 nations, should continue its efforts to further strengthen such global institutions and maintain their identity as key tools, in fomenting economic progress.
Pakistan: Not a Rebirth but a Suicide of a Nation
Pakistan as a country, already on life support is in critical need of insane asylum-style electric shock therapies, stripped-naked mud baths, and deep isolation to finally understand its deplorable standings in the world.
The hopelessness and the dumb-mindedness in tackling their national survival issues lingering on the eve of being totally destroyed are still un-deciphered. The national intelligentsia like a basket case of large-scale incompetency dangles, while establishment and judicial in control of corrupt powers like a Netflix series for the last 500 days for the world to witness a real-time collapse of a nation and a slow death.
Nevertheless, already imprisoned minds are sending Imran Khan to prison, while already dead ideologies trying to kill him. If Imran Khan lives the corrupt opposition will simply die, but if Imran Khan dies, the corrupt opposition will die but very slowly and very surely. The pyramid of corruption-climax has been made visible although the nation is suffocating while passing through the eye of the needle, still unable to destroy it.
Gravely the 1000 bold narratives from the new legendary warrior Imran Khan are still not clear enough for the establishment and judicial to recognize the truth, like dumb and blind, the top leadership like a python of darkness only slithers deeper into its own hole. The current establishment is so weak on moralistic wisdom that it cannot appreciate or deserve a country with its rich resources and the hidden powers of its citizenry. Dead or alive Imran Khan has already carved his position in history, while the darkness of Pakistan still hiding face in unknown dungeons of stolen wealth.
When a nation, like an open book, visible with mountains of corruption, valleys of incompetence, and rivers of stolen assets drained to cripple the country, crosses the redlines of treachery and treason, it calls for a final revolution against the establishment and corrupt society leading the nation.
The systematic demise of a nation in open public like the historic video game destructions of much richer and more powerful nations of the recent past, Pakistan is being imploded. Like a great chess game, because when the nation easily available as mad, the country an insane asylum while the one who flew over the cuckoo’s nest is now a new symbol of freedom from corruption, nevertheless, a great opportunity but already missed over a decade by such a foolish nation, only leaves such deplorable options.
The tragedy of Pakistan; It is not a rebirth of a nation, which already took place 70 years ago; this is the suicide of a nation in slow motion, curated and nurtured by the global corrupt order of perpetual corrupt rule, all in synchronized actions, where the python of corruption keep swallowing its tail and never stops.
It is not an economic collapse, it is a moralistic collapse cooked slowly and seasoned for several decades, it is not the failure of education as it was only incompetency labeled as advanced education, there were no skills, there was no learning of civility and rule of law, but degrees for the walls, for the grand order of subservient.
Now, if the new warrior leader is gone, the movement will slowly die, but the corrupt opposition is now marked for life. If the leaders gain control, the real war of competency will start. It is incompetency that creates corruption over time; it is the corruption that destroys nations over time. The newly awakened nation needs a brand new global age of expertise and talent. Destroy incompetency to destroy lingering corruption.
It is a collapse of humanity, the jailed, the broken and the assassinated, the sufferers and the victims of corruption, all those one days may rise, like so often during the last millennia, humankind stood up to tyranny and flipped a new page. Long live revolutions
It is not the new funding, only wisdom, and faith that can save the nation, money is only fuel over the fire to allow more corruption to fortify itself. Accept failures boldly and strip naked incompetency forcefully and rebuild a new nation on old graveyards but all on merits but must find the darkness of the nation and kill the python of corruption. It is now life and death struggle, it is only courage and faith that will win. The rest is easy
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