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Afghanistan lost: Strategic questions haunt wider Af-Pak region, global players

WebdeskAug 25, 2021, 12:00 AM IST

Afghanistan lost: Strategic questions haunt wider Af-Pak region, global players
Afghanistan

                                                                                                                                                                                                       Nirendra Dev

 

The country is in turmoil, and it has all the potential to influence and disturb the entire region and the global polity.


New Delhi: ‘Foreign interference’ is an oft-heard phrase in diplomacy. Generally, the country that faces ‘foreign interference’ has grievances and serious complaints; but the table seems to have turned with Afghanistan. The reasons being–Afghanistan itself has been the scene of ‘foreign power’ actions for over a century now. 


If India’s role in development diplomacy is also taken into account, the ‘Afghan story’ has been that of anecdotes of a loose alliance between dispensation(s) in Kabul and communist Russia, Islamic religious moneyed-Saudi lobby, occasional games by Iran and the powerful US.


There are bigger issues at stake in the region. Will the region become the next ground for conflicts between Taliban and IS? IS considers Shias as infidels, and this never went down well with Iran. The Taliban-Al Qaeda link is, of course, one area of concern. Iran is a well known Shia powerhouse and Taliban–a monopoly of Sunnis, so how would things progress here? In the 1990s, the Taliban faced problems from Iran when the latter helped US forces to ‘topple’ the Taliban in 2001. Will the ongoing tension between the US and countries such as Iran, Russia and China worsen further? Iran has, over the years, mobilized Shia communities throughout the Middle East for the protection of the Assad regime. In the past, too, the Iranian security agencies have recruited a large number of Afghan and Pakistani Shias to fight in Syria.


All eyes may be now on Beijing, Moscow and Tehran and whether they form any lasting axis to take on Washington. The Quad formed by the US, India, Japan and Australia has already been a ‘pain’ in the neck for Russia and China.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his chief foreign policy aides, Dr S Jaishankar and Ajit Doval are aware of how things could turn.
Thus, they have taken the right initiatives through interactions at the highest level between PM Modi and President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


In the 20th century, the British and Russian empires played so-called intervention roles. Subsequently, the United States chipped in and provided arms and logistic support to eject Russians. This happened in the 1980s, and this was also the period when Pakistan was the ‘blue-eyed’ boy of Uncle Sam. Much later, the terrorism thrived with support from the Saudi lobby, and then Al-Qaeda made the region the base to strike with their infamous misadventure of all time - the 9/11.


Yet again, the country is in turmoil, and it has all the potential to influence and disturb the entire region and the global polity.
In the new circumstance, as the US and its NATO partners make a retreat rather sheepishly, Afghanistan could soon again turn a theatre of international games by a few neo and old players, namely Pakistan, China, Iran and Russia.


But in all these changing games and so on, one thing is permanent. The mistrust remains the biggest player in more ways than one.
Pakistan has put all its eggs in the ‘Taliban basket’ to create a possible fighting cushion against India. But what would happen if the ‘monster’ they have created gets it on its neck.


China, Russia and Iran–all have their respective ‘interests’ and games. From the sidelines, but importantly, India needs to be careful that the next round of Mujahideen and radical Islamic games do not get a kickoff in Kashmir. New Delhi has started exploring the possibilities by starting to ban Hurriyat. 

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