NEWS FOCUS: Has India abandoned Afghanistan?

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India’s PM Narendra Modi and President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, in New Delhi, 2018. Photo: PIB

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 29 June 2021: Afghanistan has been called the ‘graveyard of empires’, an obvious reference to the drubbing imperial Britain, Russians (Soviets) faced there, and now the United States faces the same. As the US troops are all set to withdraw, the current Western propped Ashraf Ghani regime crumbling, and the Taliban ready to take over, India another important player in the country faces the ugly prospect of a pro-Pakistan Taliban taking power in Kabul. The US and Taliban are talking but reports of India also doing the same secretly are being widely debated.

India has heavily invested in Afghanistan since 2002 (estimated to be 2 to 3 billion Dollars), has consulates in Herat, and Jalalabad apart from the mission in Kabul, a country which Pakistan considers its sphere of influence. Reports indicate 28 out of 34 Afghan regions are in Taliban control, and hence India’s interest in talking to the Taliban, some believe, under US pressure. Or, India has no other choice? Another opinion being, India has abandoned Afghanistan?

An interview (wire. in) by Karan Thapar with Radha Kumar, former Director-General, Delhi Study Group, is revealing. Radha Kumar says the Taliban is not a unified force and India is capitalizing on it because of its earlier leverage of being a big donor. But this may not work because of the open hostility between India and China. And, China is a bigger donor now.

Radha Kumar says the role of Pakistan, Russia, and China is important after the US withdrawal and the Taliban’s connections with the LT, Jaish, and Hizbul can have implications in Kashmir. The recent initiative in Kashmir is weak, she says. The implication being New Delhi has accepted its limited influence in Afghanistan.

“India abandoning Afghanistan will be shortsighted,” says Radha Kumar.

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