Bharat's role in the Taliban ruled Afghanistan
15 February 2022
"Bharat kick-started interaction with Taliban....."
Afghanistan is a country located towards northwest of Bharat. Initially Bharat shared a long border with Afghanistan called the Durand Line. Post partition a mere strip of 106 km touches Pakistan occupied Kashmir. History is evident that no central power ever controlled Afghanistan together. It was neither British nor the Soviets and not even the Americans. Afghanistan has always been divided and controlled by the ethnic tribes present there.
We all are well aware of the recent situation which arose in Afghanistan. A terrorist organization took over the country. And now it seems the world has accepted it. Many countries including US, UK and the European Union have started the process to engage with Taliban. Bharat being an immediate neighbor has also jumped into this because New Delhi has much to lose if they delay their actions.
Let us look upon what problems Bharat will face or rather is facing. Bharat shares a land boundary of 106 km in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. There will be a straight rise in terrorist activities in Bharat. Moreover, seeing the involvement of Haqqanis in Taliban government, it seems to be more of a puppet government of Pakistan.
Which is itself a big issue. Also, on the other hand we can see Chinese are getting in contact with the Taliban. In addition to this, Bharat has a lot of money at stake in Afghanistan. This money is invested in various projects like the Afghan parliament, Salma Dam, Zaranj – Delaram highway project, Power transmission lines over Hindu Kush Mountains and much more.
So, seeing this Bharat also took some steps. Bharat kick-started interaction with Taliban. The frequent visits of Minister of External Affairs Mr. S Jaishankar to Qatar shows this. Bharat also has cordial relations with the local influential warlords of Afghanistan. Some of them like Mohammad ata Noor and Abdul Rashid Dostum. In short Bharat is on the way of normalizing ties with Taliban as a government. Bharat has to ensure no anti Bharat activity takes place on the Afghan soil. Looking towards the future of this relationship, Bharat can ensure co-operation from the Taliban regime. The current Taliban has a will of being recognised as a government. And most important resource they need is the skill. In which Bharat can help them. They also need to arrange several things for their population. Only self-funding through drug business and mining cannot help. They have to arrange at least employment, food and medical aid for their people. In this scenario Bharat enters as a major player. Considering employment opportunities Bharat already has big projects in Afghanistan (Majumdar, 2021). Also, the Chabahar to Delaram highway project provides port connectivity to Afghanistan. Bharat is also investing in Chabahar port economic zone. Through these and many other projects Bharat can be a source of employment for Afghans. Here arises the question of China investing and being source of employment, but China has way too less infrastructure compared to Indian infrastructure already present in Afghanistan. Bhara can be a major supplier of food grains to Afghanistan. New Delhi has already assured to supply 50000 MT of wheat to Afghanistan. China is also providing aid worth 31 million USD. Bharat has also declared an aid of 200 crore in its Union budget for Afghanistan. In case of medical aid Bharat has already supplied vaccine doses to Afghanistan. But only this may not help as China is also sending vaccines. Bharat should invest in medical infrastructure like hospitals in Afghanistan. Also, this will be easier as Bharat is well versed with the Afghan machinery due to previous projects. In return to this New Delhi can expect Co-operation from Taliban to ensure no anti-Bharat activities take place on Afghan soil. An influential Taliban government will help keep Pakistan and China in check. New Delhi can exploit the mineral rich soil in Afghanistan. Afghanistan will give a direct access to central Asia. New trade routes can be discovered which would be short and efficient. Also, it will help Bharat to influence geo-politics. Through several countries Bharat can also get access to Europe and Russia. Basically, it seems an opportunity for New Delhi. These things will take time but the benefits will be wider.