India is morally right in thought and action on the Afghan conundrum

India is morally right in thought and action on the Afghan conundrum
A friend in need. Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets Afghan President Ashraf Ghani during the signing of an MoU between India and Afghanistan, on the construction of Shahtoot dam near Kabul.ANI

New Delhi has harvested enough international goodwill, with special mention to Middle Eastern states, to ensure that its regional and global interests will not be compromised as Biden announces withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan by September 11.

US President Joe Biden’s plans to exit his troops from Afghanistan is fraught with peril – mostly for the people of Afghanistan and for countries like India who have invested time, energy and money to uplift the wellbeing and morale of the Afghan people.

The Washington Post in an editorial has stated that Biden’s plans to lead the US Armed Forces out of this war-torn country would lead to overall disaster in the region thanks to the nefarious designs of third part actors and the power lust exhibited by the Taliban who are now in pole position to usurp the administration by plotting the fall of the civilian government led by Ashraf Ghani.

The US pitched their tents in Afghanistan in 2001 as a response to the terror attack in New York and Washington on September 11 that year. The Taliban were toppled by US forces, who partnered with Afghan militias, in their search for Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. At that time the Taliban became collateral damage as American forces were in pursuit of Bin Laden.

Our concern is that the vacuum that will be created by the withdrawal of the United States and NATO should not create space for disruptors. There are many people looking for an opportunity to walk into the space being created.
General Bipin Rawat

Taliban being collateral damage

The end of Al Qaeda and its subsidiary groups was brought about and with it came the presence of a civilian government which delivered the people from the hands of the Taliban’s oppressive regime. The reconstruction of Afghanistan began in earnest and in this India became embedded as a reliable and responsible partner given its centuries of affiliation with the people of that country. Successive US presidents have been vocal about their troop’s departure from Afghanistan.

Former president Barack Obama ordered an increase in troops but also announced a withdrawal by 2014, leaving the responsibility to his successor Donald Trump who announced the US withdrawal by May 1 this year.

A member of the Afghan security forces inspects the site of a suicide blast in Kabul. Successive US presidents have been vocal about their troop’s departure from Afghanistan.
A member of the Afghan security forces inspects the site of a suicide blast in Kabul. Successive US presidents have been vocal about their troop’s departure from Afghanistan.ANI

The time had come for Biden to step up and make the call and on Wednesday, he announced the withdrawal of all American troops from Afghanistan by, ironically, September 11 this year. This will also be followed by the departure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops as well.

War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking. We were attacked, we went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives
US President Joe Biden

In a surprise visit to Kabul on Thursday, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Afghanistan High Council for National Reconciliation Chair Dr. Abdullah. The two discussed the US troops withdrawal and the Afghanistan peace process.

The visit came just after NATO announced that it would begin to withdraw all member state forces from Afghanistan by May 1, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said. The "orderly, coordinated and deliberate" drawdown will be completed "within a few months," Stoltenberg said at the conclusion of the alliance's defense and foreign ministers meeting in Brussels.

“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Biden said. “We were attacked, we went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for withdrawal, and expecting a different result.”

Afghanistan refugee families hold a placard during a protest demanding their basic rights. The Taliban are primed to take over the country when foreign  troops withdraw.
Afghanistan refugee families hold a placard during a protest demanding their basic rights. The Taliban are primed to take over the country when foreign troops withdraw.ANI

Afghan civilian government in danger

There is a strong possibility that the civilian Afghan government would not stand the test of time once the Taliban are given a free hand to operate. The enemy are tough as evidenced by the fact that foreign military presence has not been able to tame them. To that extend there has never been a good reason or time to withdraw from Afghanistan. The short-term dangers are too evident to analysts.

The US is no longer the lead actor in the Afghan Peace Process even though it has promised economic and military support to the current government.

Afghanistan is a country rich in resources. It is also a strategic tool to further the designs of certain nations waiting in the wings - Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey are cases in point.

There is a strong possibility that the civilian Afghan government would not stand the test of time once the Taliban are given a free hand to operate.
The healing touch. COVId-19 vaccines are being sent to Afghanistan by India. New Delhi has invested heavily in the wellbeing of the Afghan people.
The healing touch. COVId-19 vaccines are being sent to Afghanistan by India. New Delhi has invested heavily in the wellbeing of the Afghan people.ANI

For India it may well be a case of going back to the drawing board as it considers a review and reset of its Afghan policy. There are strong possibilities that, with the revival of the Taliban, the country may once again become a safe haven for terrorists who will continue, with the patronage of certain nations, to destabilise India.

According to Reuters, General Bipin Rawat told a security conference that the worry was "disruptors" would step into the space created by the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. He declined to name the countries that could act as spoilers.

"Our concern is that the vacuum that will be created by the withdrawal of the United States and NATO should not create space for disruptors," Rawat said. “There are many people looking for an opportunity to walk into the space being created.”

Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat at Raisina Dialogue. New Delhi has invested more than $3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan.
Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat at Raisina Dialogue. New Delhi has invested more than $3 billion in assistance to Afghanistan.ANI

India has invested at least $3 billion in Afghanistan on roads, power stations and even built its parliament following the ousting of the Taliban in 2001. Rawat said India would be happy to provide more support to Afghanistan so long as peace can return.

New Delhi has managed to harvest enough international goodwill, with special mention to Middle Eastern states, to ensure that its regional and global interests will never be compromised. This has been due to the efforts of the Narendra Modi administration who have firmed up a result-oriented foreign policy framework to announce India’s stature and influence among the global community.

Afghan security forces stand guard outside a hospital which came under attack in Kabul. It is believed that the Taliban along with other foreign actors could cripple the country.
Afghan security forces stand guard outside a hospital which came under attack in Kabul. It is believed that the Taliban along with other foreign actors could cripple the country.ANI

Hand-in-glove with the Taliban

Nations who have in the past been hand-in-glove with the Taliban’s philosophy and actions will need to stand up and be counted. Plenty is at stake for these countries and their own society as the common people are not enthused by the prospect of violence and terrorism that bring with it international sanctions coupled with crippling economic conditions. These governments will need to be responsible for the well-being of their own people should they choose to be invested with the Taliban.

India may have cause for concern, but there is lots to be said about being morally right - in thought and action.

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