India’s position in a changing Afghan landscape

Afghanistan’s President has played a bold move by drawing the Taliban into a peace binding process. The Afghanistan Government has made an effort to show the international audience that it is genuinely trying to pressurize Taliban to accept the negotiations and encouraging those who are participating in the Kabul Process Conference.

By isafmedia (Flickr: 120528-N-TR360-003) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

According to UN figures, a rise in the number of undiscriminating attacks last year resulted in more than 10,000 civilian casualties – 3,438 people were killed and 7,015 were injured. This attempt by the Afghanistan President might help in reducing the horrors of war that the locals are all too familiar with.  President Ghani expects the Taliban to be a part of the peace making and negotiating process. It also expects them to recognize the Afghan government and respect the rule of law. On the other hand, he has made certain offers to the Taliban like recognizing it as a legitimate political group, releasing prisoners, passports for the Taliban members, inclusive elections for Taliban, assisting in scrubbing the names of top commanders from international terrorist blacklists, ceasefire, an office in Kabul and helping the Taliban’s militants families to resettle. Taliban have had reactions and response to this. It has started insisting on direct negotiations with the United States, dismissing the American backed government in Kabul as a puppet. Taliban militants have also said that the military strategies which have repeatedly been tested in Afghanistan over the past 17 years will only intensify and prolong the war more.

So what has been the role of US, a principal military ally in this? US Commander in Afghanistan, Gen John Nicholson has persuaded Trump to deploy an additional 3,000 troops which has taken the total number of troops to about 14,000. Last year, the American forces had forced the Taliban to negotiate by stepping up anti-insurgent operations. It has also put pressure on Pakistan to force the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government. Washington also withheld millions of dollars in U.S. security assistance over Islamabad’s alleged support for terrorism. This was done to crack down on militant safe havens on its side of the Afghan-Pakistan border. US believes that any peace talks with Afghanistan have to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

So what must India do amongst this entire scenario in its neighborhood? India should and must display its leadership skills to establish peace outside the war-field. As a regional power player, India has high stakes in Afghanistan and hence India cannot just get away by ignoring these scenarios in its neighborhood. India should increase the security cooperation with Afghanistan, especially in its intelligence sharing and armed forces. India has economic stakes in Afghanistan and hence it should ramp up economic diplomacy in Afghanistan to bring immediate benefits to Kabul. India should use its diplomacy deftly and must counter the emerging argument that Trump’s new approach will intensify the Indo-Pak rivalry in Afghanistan and the old one that Kashmir holds the key to peace in Afghanistan. India needs to open channels of communication to Taliban. Negotiations and peace talks should be given utmost priority. If Afghanistan disintegrates, we will lose our cultural as well as our civilization connection. Moreover, along with human assistance, human cost is also involved which needs to be protected and given security at any cost.

Ipsita Mishra

Ipsita Mishra

Contributor at InPRA
Ipsita Mishra has completed her B.A.LL.B(IPR Hons.) from National Law University Odisha, Cuttack. Presently working part time as a Research Assistant at Centre for Public Policy Research, Kochi. She has also worked in various capacities as Legal Associate, Legal Journalist and Legal Consultant. She has interned with Law Commission of India and various NGOs and Law firms. Her areas of interest includes Human Rights, Governance and Policy issues, International Law and Strategic Affairs.
Ipsita Mishra