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The Taliban takeover: Reasons why India is worried5 min read

September 1, 2021 4 min read


The Taliban takeover: Reasons why India is worried5 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Hours after the US military made its exit from Afghanistan — where it had kept troops for 20 long years — India made its first official contact with the Taliban.

A quick recap:

  • On August 15, the Taliban, an Islamist religious-political group, took control of Kabul (capital of Afghanistan).
  • The President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani has fled, and the Taliban does not want to negotiate any kind of deals with him.
  • The US military, which was in Afghanistan for 20 years as part of the ’20-year war’, has withdrawn its troops.
  • The Taliban has brought back (their version) Sharia law to Afghanistan, which takes away certain freedoms the country had been living with till now under the Afghan government.
  • For a more detailed understanding, go through part 1 and part 2 of our special on what’s happening in Afghanistan. These articles will help you understand this piece better. Happy reading!

What did Indian and the Taliban discuss?

India and Afghanistan on a world map.

A meeting was held between the Ambassador of India to Kuwait Deepak Mittal and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, who is the head of the Taliban’s political office. According to the Ministry of External Affairs — the government agency that looks into all foreign matters ­— “discussions focused on safety, security and early return of Indian nationals stranded in Afghanistan. The travel of Afghan nationals, especially minorities, who wish to visit India also came up.”

If things are so tense right now in Afghanistan, why did India meet the Taliban? What are some of the issues that have come up for Indian since the Taliban took control? Owliver answers these burning questions in this week’s Law and Order.

The terror issue

Discussing an important issue, which has been a cause for concern over the last few weeks, Ambassador Mittal said that Afghanistan soil should not be used for anti-Indian activities and terrorism in any manner. In response, the Taliban assured it would look into these matters.

Taliban men stand guard outside Kabul airport. Photo: Reuters

So why is India worried about possible ‘anti-India’ activities? This concern stems from the fact that the current situation in Afghanistan could give an upper hand to India’s long-standing rival – Pakistan.

Pakistan has had ties with the Taliban for years now. India fears that Pakistani militants could gain power and plan attacks on India from Afghanistan. The country had already received information that such groups were already making an entry into Afghanistan, which is why India decided to work fast and establish its own ties with the Taliban. India also evacuated its diplomats living in Afghanistan, and shut its embassy there.

The fear is that terror groups, such as the Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, will become more powerful with the Taliban in power.

The Indian military, led by Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat, is expected to brainstorm on the impact of a Taliban regime in Afghanistan and its security ramifications on India soon.

An economic threat too

The Shahtoot Dam over Kabul river. Photo: Jammu Kashmir Now

The other major setback for India with the Taliban taking over is the threat to all the investments the country has made in Afghanistan. Over the last two decades, India had been a partner to Afghanistan in building its infrastructure, education, medical resources, agriculture as well as power generation. India has invested $3 billion in Afghanistan. Many Indians have been involved in these projects, which includes the Shahtoot Dam on the Kabul River, on which work had just started. These projects are likely to be impacted or stopped, which means India would lose its investments.

The China angle

The Taliban’s political chief, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a meeting in July this year. Photo: Li Ran/Xinhua/Reuters

India and China share the world’s longest unmarked border, and tensions have been high ever since a June 2020 border clash left 20 Indian soldiers dead. India chose to retaliate off the battlefield, by banning dozens of Chinese-owned apps, such as TikTok. So, it’s safe to say that things are not smooth between the two countries.

Now this could mean trouble for India, as China has already held talks with the Taliban, and did invest much money in Afghanistan too.

China is interested in Afghanistan’s natural resources, such as lithium (used to make lithium-ion batteries), copper, coal, uranium, etc, and will work with the Taliban to get a hold of these, say experts.

Pakistan and China have been working together too as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to increase trade and connectivity in the region. India fears that the two countries together could work against it, and isolate it in all senses.

For India, this is a time to make smart decisions, maintain good relations and observe carefully before acting. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments!

Sources: NPR, Indian Express, News Laundry, Firstpost

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