The Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan is a cause of concern and worry for the whole of Central Asia. Ever since the U.S. withdrawal, the Taliban have taken control of nearly 34 districts of the country. Such is the perilous condition that countries like Australia and Russia have also closed their missions in some provinces.
The fragile situation in the region is worrisome for India also, which has invested to the tune of nearly $3 billion in several infrastructure projects like the Salma dam in the Herat province, the new parliament building and various hospitals and child care centres.
The failure of the civilian government to anticipate the alacrity of the Taliban rise despite its army being trained and armed is also worrying. Moreover, it has shown the complete failure on the part of local intelligence.
Afghanistan member of Parliament, Mariam Solaimankhil, attributes the Taliban resurgence to the tacit support of Pakistan and believes that it would not have been possible without the ISI’s help. The claim, although damning for India, is also legitimate, with Pakistan having a history of weakening the democratically elected governments in Afghanistan and trying to limit India’s influence in the region.
India also needs to worry about other terror outfits on Afghanistan’s soil, particularly the Islamic State, which is still a force to reckon with considering the ability to attract civilians from across the world with their ideas. Recently, a group of women left the state of Kerala to join them.
Moreover, India’s strategic interests in Afghanistan is also important as it wishes to bypass Pakistan to gain access to Central Asia. India has already invested in a series of roads and railway projects, with the most prominent being the Khaf Herat railway project connecting Chabahar port to Afghanistan.
Despite New Delhi’s stand of not negotiating with terrorists, India recently announced that it had corresponded with the Taliban for the future course of Afghanistan. The External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar also met his counterparts of Iran and Russia on the Taliban resurgence and the safety of the minorities, most importantly the Hindus, Punjabis, Hazaras, Buddhists and Shias.
Jaishankar is also slated to meet with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meet at Dushanbe, considering China’s substantial interests in the region.
However, former ambassador to Afghanistan, Mr Amar Sinha, feels India shouldn’t press the panic button and instead support the democratically elected government. Moreover, Afghanistan isn’t what it was 25–30 years back, with a substantial population educated and more aware.
But despite this, it’s important to note that the rise in Talibani resurgence isn’t overnight and was certainly anticipated when the U.S. announced its troop pullover in 2020. It is, therefore, the need of the global stakeholders to come together and devise a pragmatic and proactive strategy preventing the region from going back to a civil war crisis.