The writer is of the view that India has a confused view off the actual situation in Afghanistan. It needs to revamp its policies in accordance with the emerging situation. it is in India’s interest to forge friendly rlatiosn with both Pakistan and Afghanistan. India should shun duplicity. The views expressed are personal.
The situation in Afghanistan is still fluid. The Taliban are still faced with the challenge to secure de jure international recognition. They are being portrayed by the Islamic State-Khorasan as American spies wont to living in cosy seven star hotels at Doha. The Taliban urgently need financial succor to ameliorate the lot of the common man in a war ravaged country.
Taliban’s rise and fall of Kabul was beyond the US and India’s wildest imagination. In a video, president Biden of the US ruled out this possibility. Yet the Afghan forces took to heels without firing a shot.
Pakistan, the bête noire
India believes that that the Taliban could never have achieved, what they have, without help from Pakistan. They point out that the Quetta Shoora, akin to the Iranian guardians’ council is based in Pakistan. The Afghan head off state, Akhundzada had been living in Pakistan until he moved to Qandahar a few days back.
India’s continued pressure on the US
The US did a lot to isolate Pakistan in comity of nations. The FATF difficulties are an upshot of Indo-US joint efforts. Through US backing, India has been able to portray the freedom struggle in Kashmir as a ‘terrorist movement”.
The cataclysmic rise of the Taliban shattered India’s dream to be a stake holder, a guarantor of the peace deal between the US and the Taliban.
The US looked the other way when India stoked insurgency in Baluchistan or the Federally Administered Tribal Area (through the Pashtun Tahafuzz Movement. It not only sheltered the Baluch insurgents but also allowed them to open an office in New Delhi.
Kashmir a bilateral dispute
Under Indo0US pressure, the Taliban were compelled to say that Kashmir is a bilateral dispute between India and Pakistan.
Contours of India’s confusion:
Af-Pak duplicitous hostility
India wants to avail itself of Afghanistan’s untapped abundant natural resources like China and other countries. It wants to transit its gods via the Central Asia to Europe. Doing so requires India to bury the hatchet with Pakistan. Yet India is toujours at daggers drawn with Pakistan.
India anticipates that Afghanistan shall, sooner rather than later, agitate the issue of the Durand Line with Pakistan. It is happy that some Taliban have muffled resentment against the barbed fence erected at the Afpak border.
Pakistan government’s view: Senior military officers took off veneer of rank to talk to PTM leaders, eye-ball-to-eye-ball. The PTM demands were well reflected in media, including Herald.
Pakistan sold Afghanis
India has been assiduously reminding Afghanistan that Pakistan sold scores of Afghanis, dubbed terrorists’ to earn millions of dollars. Parvez Musharraf, in his autobiography acknowledges this bitter truth remorselessly.
Propaganda about women’s plight
India is trumpeting full throated that the Pakistan army abducted scores of women during Waziristan operation. The women were used as sex slaves and forced into trafficking. India media also alleges that the Taliban dragged former Afghan soldier’s wives and daughters for the household and insulted their modesty.
The US dependence on Pakistan sounds like a nightmare to India. India believes that at some stage, the US would strike a compromise with China to give the latter a free hand in Afghanistan. In such an eventually, Pakistan importance would naturally be whittled down.
Pashtun Tahafuz Movement
This organisation used to display Afghan flag, instead of Pakistan’s flag, at its party meetings. Abroad. They are very vocal critics of Pak army. They even attacked army check posts, killing or maiming many solders.
A PTM activist Dr. Fauza Raoof converted to Hinduism and renamed herself Saraswati Dasi. She has been urging the Pashtun community to renounce Islam, convert to Hinduism, and marry the Hindu.
The PTM’s over-ebullient behavior: The PTM leaders often fly off the handle and begin to speak even against the integrity of Pakistan. The PTM is fonder of talking to international media, particularly Afghan Diaspora, than Pakistan’s governments that it calls “toothless”. During the PTM’s meetings abroad, they proudly hoist Afghan national flag. The PTM refers military generals as “traitors.” They even allege, without any evidence, that the military was complicit in the horrific terrorist attack, claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, on an Army-run school, which was populated with the children of soldiers, in Peshawar back in December 2014.
Such witheringly anti-military rhetoric, according to the PTM’s harshest critics, exemplifies how the movement has lost its appeal and descended into ethnic-power politics while becoming “a political party in all but name.” More broadly, it angers many others in Pakistan who venerates the military and regards such vociferous criticism as wholly unjustifiable.
The PTM berates Pak army operations and extols drone strikes. For one thing drone strikes amount to aggression. In an article, David Swanson pointed out that any use of military force, be it a drone attack, amounts to a war. The Kellogg-Briand Pact made war a crime in 1928 and various atrocities became criminal acts at Nuremberg and Tokyo.
The UN charter maintained war as a crime, but limited it to an ‘aggressive’ war, and gave immunity to any wars launched with the UN approval. If that is indeed the case, did the UN allow drone attacks on Pakistan? Drone attacks on our territory are a clear violation of our sovereignty as an independent state
The PTM never admitted that drone attacks are a sacrilege of Pakistan’s sovereignty. It never focused on the so-called `collateral damage’ in terms of innocent women, children, and adults killed.
As the president of the United Nations’ Security Council and perched at the Sanctions Committee, India believes it has leverage to warp the Taliban’s foreign policy. There is no let-up in India’s hybrid warfare on “Af-Pak nexus” and on international forums. A sensible policy for India is to mend its fence with Pakistan. After all, Afghanistan never provided any sanctuaries to Kashmiri freedom fighters. Besides, Afghanistan has never been a threat to India’s security (aside from India’s figment of imagination). India needs to realise that its duplicitous policy towards Pakistan and Afghanistan could prove to be self-defeating. The Taliban came to power again because they were more powerful than their 1996 rule and had backing of their own people. It was the American government that kept lying to rest of the world about gains in Afghanistan. Regional actors are deliberating to deal with the latest and unexpected development in Afghanistan. Pakistan has been the major victim of terrorism for last two decades. Like other regional actors China, Iran, Saudi, Arabia, UAE, Pakistan is also looking into that how to engage with this political reality (Taliban) and work for preventing any crisis-like situation in Afghanistan. U.S. seems not to engage Taliban politically but that will antagonize Taliban towards the U.S. and its allies. Majority of the international media are reporting from Kabul which reflects there is a sense of security for them. A stable and economically viable Afghanistan is better for regional peace and security than an economically shattered and security-wise unstable. Therefore, it is the responsibility of great power and regional actors to extend humanitarian assistance and economic aid to avoid any resurgence of drugs and Kalashnikov culture. Transition from a puppet government to a Taliban regime is crucial for people of Afghanistan. History teaches great lessons, perhaps states don’t wish to learn them.
Afghanistan as an item on India’s foreign policy balance sheet has turned out to be a loss-making proposition more times than one. Twice in the last 40 years, India thought it had a good thing going, betting its fortunes in Afghanistan, partnering a superpower, and yet both times India was left in the lurch as the powers decided to quit in a super hurry.
India realised it had to recalibrate its position if it wanted to maintain a toehold in the country, a necessary strategic requirement keeping Pakistan in mind.
Doubtless `patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel’. India is overplaying PTM to tarnish Pakistan’s image. The PTM should make public its funding sources. Lest the PTM is dubbed unpatriotic, it should stick on course. And confine itself to its primary demand for reduction or elimination of the army check posts