As the world grapples with the containment of the COVID-19 outbreak, New Delhi, in April, passed a new law in Kashmir that provides permanent residency rights for anyone who has resided in Jammu and Kashmir for a period more than 15 years. The fresh rule which was passed over a month ago also allows domicile to those who have pursued their education in the State turned UT for seven years.
As expected, the new law sparked tension and as a result, there has been a spurt in militancy and violence in Kashmir. On April 9, a new outfit called the Resistance Front came into the surface in Kashmir, whose 5 members were killed in the frontier district of Kupwara.
Furthermore, 4 Indian Army personnel and 1 Jammu and Kashmir Police Officer were martyred in the line of duty in Changimulla Village, Handwara on 2nd May, to rescue civilians from the clutches of the terrorists. However, this recent escalation is not just owing to Article 370 of the Indian Constitution but has a more profound backdrop.
Not too long ago, the United States and the Taliban signed a historic peace agreement in Doha. The deal calls for the complete withdrawal of foreign troops within 14 months and a pledge from the Taliban to complement the Afghan government and not fiddle with international terrorist networks. Though it has been met with official optimism in the states, India has been sceptical about it, given Afghanistan’s future could come into great danger.
In the geopolitical scenario, Afghanistan occupies a vital position and therefore remains crucial in the strategic affairs of New Delhi. With one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, the South Asian giant has been looking to expand its trade relations and establish access to new markets, one of which has been Central Asia. Given the country’s adversarial relationship with Pakistan, India invested in Chabahar, Iran to reach Central Asia via Afghanistan (Zaranj-Delaram highway), also acting as a counterbalance to China and Pakistan.
Therefore, Afghanistan’s political stability remains a fundamental interest in New Delhi. However, it is not just the commercial interest but the political uncertainty in the region which remains alarming for India. The withdrawal of US forces could pave the way for the chaotic scenario, making the entire region to go into the clutches of religiously inspired violence.
It is a well-known fact that Islamabad has close ties with the Taliban regime. It was the first country to diplomatically support them from 1996 to 2001 as they are ethnically close to the Islamic nation—making them feel more secure from this frontier. This is where it could turn negative for India as it would never wish a pro-Pakistani or Taliban government controlling the Kabul.
A conceivable future of the Taliban regime can have serious implications for India’s domestic security and one region that is expected to be affected the most is Kashmir. The road ahead seems bumpy and India needs to deal with disgruntled Kashmiris militants, on one hand, the Taliban government on the other.