India’s interests in Afghanistan | By Samreen Bari Aamir


India’s interests in Afghanistan

INDIA is in a strange dilemma today, on the one hand, Corona has wreaked havoc also weakening grip on internal affairs is a disaster for Modi, On the other hand, defeat in foreign affairs became the destiny of the Indian government. The Taliban’s growing grip on Afghanistan has also become a great trouble for India.

India is a key player in Afghanistan, and its influence has grown since the Taliban Administration was deposed by the United States in 2001.

India has contributed over $2 billion (€1.65 billion) in reconstruction aid to Kabul, making it the top regional donor.

India announced about 150 more projects. S Jaishankar, India’s Foreign Minister, who spoke via video conference at the two-day 2020 Afghanistan Conference in Geneva, said his country will invest more than $80 million in Afghanistan.

The meeting was co-hosted by the United Nations, the Afghan government and the Finnish government.

Previously the Haqqani network, a prominent Taliban branch, has attacked Indian assets in Afghanistan.

With its stability and presence under jeopardy, India is refocusing its objectives. The India that has broken the mountains of oppression on Muslims in Kashmir, is now anxious to negotiate with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The India that in the 1990s and 2000s, together with Russia, backed the Northern Alliance, a key rival of the Taliban at the time, in order to protect its interests.

Now the same India is again trying to protect its interests and trying to negotiate and making deals with Taliban.

Interestingly, India is denying any such deal but a senior Qatari government official said that an Indian team paid a “quiet visit” to Qatar to speak with the Taliban in June 2021.

This information was presented during a webinar by Qatar’s special envoy for counterterrorism and conflict resolution, Mutlaq bin Majed Al Qahtani, in the first formal admission of connections between India and the Taliban rebel organization in Afghanistan.

These backchannel discussions have also been acknowledged by the Taliban’s Quetta leadership.

Although the Indian government has not responded to the major statements made by a Qatari government official.

But, it is a fact that the effectiveness of India’s backchannel discussions with the Taliban will be determined by Pakistan’s response.

In the best-case scenario, Islamabad will remain neutral, neither promoting nor discouraging such relations.

At worst, it will push members of the Taliban who are known to be engaging with India to the sidelines and dissuade the armed organization from communicating with New Delhi.

Although Dr Moeed Yusuf, National Security Adviser, has called India’s engagement with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar “shameless,” despite the fact that India has long supported operations against the terrorist organization.

—The writer is contributing regularly, based in Karachi.