“Afghanistan” the word does not reflect a serene image of its dry terrain, happy people, afghani food and long single lane roads. Instead, the moment we hear it, we are reminded of fighter jets flying over, bombing some Al-Qaeda sites, migrants trying to flee, emotionless devastated faces of children. Sadly, that is the true picture of Afghanistan and it is going to turn even worse.
The US is in the final stages of withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan. The withdrawal is leading to an acute power void which is attracting the Taliban forces. The Taliban has been one of the prominent political forces in Afghanistan and its prominence is going to increase even more after the said withdrawal.
Over the years, with or without the US presence every country which is in the vicinity or power reach has exploited Afghanistan in almost every way possible. Starting with the Soviet Union, the then USSR had territorial ambitions to expand from the Northern Coast to the Southern Coast. In the late 1980s, Afghanistan was moving towards establishing a communist regime under Hafizulla Amin, which faced a strong resistance from Muslim guerillas, this was the starting point of Russian intervention in Afghanistan. The USSR sent 30,000 troops to counter the Muslim militia on 24th December 1979. This was seen as a major breakthrough by the USSR in any Central Asian country.
The USA to counter such invasion started supporting Islamic Militia covertly. A famous movie called ‘Charlie Wilson’s War’ is made on these geopolitical events. After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the Islamic militia which the USA nurtured, made the USA their primary enemy target. Thus started a long drawn battle between the USA and the Afghan Militia in the name of Al-Qaeda, The Taliban, ISIS and the war spread across Central Asia. From 2015, the Presidential Candidate Donald Trump campaigned on the point that he will end the expensive wars in the middle-east as they are unnecessary. He stuck to his promise and started a rotating withdrawal from the middle-east including Afghanistan.
In Biden’s government too, the rotating withdrawal has not halted and the new administration also thinks that it is a prudent position for the USA to withdraw from Afghanistan. However, the withdrawal is not that simple. The withdrawal of the USA creates many voids, including geopolitics, economy, security, stability etc. Under the US presence a modern movement had started to spread its wings in Afghanistan. Adoption of modern ideas, modern education, modern lifestyle had started in Afghanistan, with the US withdrawal and resurgence of Islamic terrorist forces the survival of the aforesaid modern movements seems to be an impossibility.
There are many other set-backs which Afghanistan will face territorially and in terms of legitimacy, however in these dark times India must stand by Afghanistan stronger than ever. Rumours were that the MEA S. Jaishankar was meeting people who were in close contact with the Taliban for a possibility to establish a backdoor channel with them. Such actions reflect only one thing, that India has lost confidence in the ability of the Afghan Government to protect itself and is jumping ship. Indian dialogue with an organisation which might take over Afghanistan in near future is strategically a masterstroke however in the current circumstance the organisation is none other than Taliban.
The possibility of building a global offensive against Taliban is something which has been tried and tested by superpowers of this world and they have failed. But along with protecting India’s strategic interest in Afghanistan, India should also strive to reach out to nations which also feel the need to protect the freedom of Afghan people. India’s strategic interests mean very little if people of the nation in which the strategic interest lay are not protected.