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Insights into Editorial: Time to Refresh Afghan Relationship

Insights into Editorial: Time to Refresh Afghan Relationship

21 October 2015

Present situation in Afghanistan, Central and West Asia makes it the right time for India to take a fresh initiative that reaches out to old friends in northern Afghanistan along with anti-Taliban elements in the southern parts. The changing equations of balance of power in Afghanistan and the current status of Taliban’s capacities in southern Afghanistan have given India this opportunity. Following Taliban’s takeover of Kunduz, the geopolitical situation on Afghanistan’s borders is rapidly evolving.

Why should Afghan’s neighbours be worried about this situation?

It is because the Taliban in Kunduz comprises not only Afghans, but an ensemble of Uzbeks, Tajiks, Turkmen, Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Uighurs, Chechens, Dagestanis along with the Al Qaeda and Pakistanis.

Why should Russia be worried?

  • The Russian government is concerned that local Daesh (Islamic State) elements, comprising mainly Central Asian jihadis , could, along with the Taliban, further fuel instability.
  • There is also fear that the Daesh could retaliate against Russian targets in response to the happenings in Syria.
  • Russia loses 50,000 youth to narcotics, which makes its way through the porous Central Asian border.

Why the US should be worried?

The U.S. had recently decided to withdraw its last troop from Afghanistan. But, following the Kunduz incident, the US decided to wait for some more time. The halt in troop withdrawal until 2017 is meant to buy time until the U.S. finds a better roadmap to peace in Afghanistan. It is said to be examining various possibilities for securing peace.

Iran is also worried because of the following reasons:

  • The instability in Afghanistan could give a boost to the Daesh.
  • An unstable Afghanistan will also lead to an increase in the illicit drug trade on Iran’s eastern border.
  • Instability could lead to an influx of refugees.

Current scenario:

In the aftermath of the Kunduz attacks, it has not been possible for Taliban to regain control over major cities in its traditional stronghold of southern Afghanistan. Kunduz was meant to legitimize the new Taliban under Mansour’s leadership. However, its operations in the south Afghanistan give the appearance of not being as robust. Kandahar has been the traditional base of Taliban. However, in recent times it has not been able to retain its control over the Kandahar and other regions. Some groups within the Taliban are opposed to the new leadership.

India’s role:

India has played a pivotal role in the resistance against the Taliban through the Northern Alliance in 90s. That role was predicated on the existence of facilities and friends in the region. Now, India needs to re-establish contact not just with the old friends in the region but also factions within the Taliban and the anti-Taliban forces in the south, to help Afghanistan gain strategic autonomy. It is also imperative for India that Afghanistan’s southeastern regions are prevented from exporting terror into India. Given the situation, India needs to come out with a new and coordinated initiative to help the Afghanistan.

Conclusion:

The geopolitical changes around Afghanistan coupled with the ongoing organizational struggles of the Taliban provide an opportunity for Russia, Iran and India to reassess their roles in Afghanistan. This will materialize only in co-ordination with the Afghanistan unity government for which it will first need to convince itself that over-reliance on a Pakistan-led solution is a non-starter.