Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 13
At a session on ‘ISI, Taliban and Afghanistan’ at the Military Lit Fest here today, experts called for a dialogue between Taliban and India. Christine Fair, American political scientist, who has written about Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, said it was the 19th year of conflict (after 9/11) but the US had lost the war in the initial stages itself.
She said the situation in Afghanistan was more dangerous now and “we have Pakistan which is more reckless”. On Taliban being ready to share power with the political class in Kabul, she replied: “They have changed...After 9/11 they didn’t embrace the media. But today they are sophisticated media users. Pakistan has taught them media management. They are engaging with the Chinese and Russians.”
Vivek Katju, former Ambassador to Afghanistan, said only four players were important in this conflict — the US, Taliban, Pakistan and Afghanistan — while the role of the rest was peripheral.
“Afghanistan is no good today than it was in March, 2002,” he said, adding the Taliban wouldn’t have achieved success without Pakistan’s help. “Pakistan decided to make Taliban their instrument after Hekmatyar. But this doesn’t mean Taliban is a puppet. Whether we like it or not, they have shown tremendous resistance with the help of Pakistan. Americans have suffered an enormous strategic defeat.”
On the Afghan situation, he said the Americans were already in talks with the Taliban. “Taliban has the upper hand. We must continue contact with the Kabul authorities, but shouldn’t exclude Taliban. I don’t like Taliban. They are medieval. But we have to engage with them,” he said.
Maj Gen BK Sharma (retd) pointed out that with over 2,000 deaths of soldiers and 20,000 being wounded, the US was on the verge of defeat. He talked about India initiating an intra-Afghan dialogue. “We can’t have a Kandahar-like situation again. We have to keep a balance between Pashtun and non-Pashtun groups,” he stresssed.
On US’ announcement of leaving Afghanistan, Fair said she was more worried about what would happen when the last cheque given by the US was encashed. “When we don’t have soldiers, why will the US Congress issue cheques (for Afghanistan),” she asked.
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