Talks with Taliban: India needs to tread warily on Afghan chessboard - The Tribune India

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Talks with Taliban

India needs to tread warily on Afghan chessboard

Talks with Taliban

Photo for representation. File photo



INDIA has been demonstrating deft diplomacy in Afghanistan ever since its game plan of riding on the US coat-tails came a cropper when the Taliban stormed into Kabul in August 2021. By all accounts, the pact the US had signed with the Taliban in 2020 reeked of capitulation. Then Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in whom India had invested its diplomatic capital, ignominiously fled the country. A month later, Foreign Minister S Jaishankar had nursed hopes of the Taliban co-opting members of the old regime in the new government when he said India would never accept ‘any outcome which is decided by force’.

Last week, the arc lights in Kabul were on an Indian delegation that discussed with the Taliban leadership various aspects pointing to near normalisation of ties. New Delhi has also closely observed the bitterness between Islamabad and Kabul, generated by skirmishes on the Durand Line and the fact that a bankrupt Pakistan is incapable of economically helping Afghanistan. By the end of last year, India seemed satisfied with the Taliban’s commitment to preventing Afghanistan from again becoming a hub of jihadi terrorism.

The Taliban, in return, were allowed to quietly take over the Afghan missions in India. India’s decision to sidle up to the Taliban was also motivated by China restoring diplomatic ties with Kabul. The Taliban, though, have a long way to go before they receive global legitimacy. Their greater accommodation of Indian interests should spur New Delhi to handhold the post-Mullah Omar generation as it seeks to integrate with the wider world. But past experience tells India to be circumspect as it finds its feet again on the Afghan chessboard.

#Afghanistan #Taliban


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