Can the ascent of the Taliban to power in Kabul harm India? Knowledgeable sources say it is in the Taliban regime’s very ideological radical Islamist nature to offend the entire modern, civilised world, including liberal-democratic- secular India. In partnership with al Qaeda, the Taliban’s aim has throughout been to establish an Islamic caliphate in the Indian subcontinent.
Back in power for the second time, the Taliban is sure to attempt realising its jihadist- expansionist ambition. To do so, the Taliban is likely to encourage terrorist outfits, such as Daesh, ISIS-K, al Qaeda, Jaish- e Mohammad, Lashkar e Taiba, to work from Afghanistan, and fuel their ongoing terror activities against India. The Taliban regime is also likely to impede the Afghan infrastructure and development projects, in which, during the previous Hamid Karzai and Ashraf Ghani governments in Kabul, India has invested over $ 3 billion.
The sources suggest New Delhi must remain cautious of the Taliban’s activities and checkmate them. India has always been a major challenger to the Taliban’s designs in the region. In the 1990s, New Delhi backed the Northern Alliance’s resistance to the then Taliban regime in Kabul. Now, to contain the Taliban, India’s intelligence and security agencies need to dismantle the evil’s linkages with certain anti-national forces within India as well as with Pakistan’s notorious Inter-Service Intelligence.
India’s agencies could focus on dismantling the Taliban’s command and control structures that have been based in Quetta ( Pakistan ). This needs to be done smartly. For, the all-powerful army in Pakistan has been the Taliban’s real backer. The Pakistan army has had a great interest in creating, nurturing and training the Taliban. This helps them in having a say in the country’s budget-making. It also helps them build an image, across a gullible spectrum in Pakistan, that they are the defenders of Islam.
South Block needs to be active in foiling Islamabad’s attempt to get the new Taliban regime in Kabul diplomatic recognition. In a recent media interview, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has proposed that the international community develop a road map for diplomatic recognition of the Taliban. He has chipped in the Taliban today are " not insensitive to what is being said by neighbours and the international community." Qureshi has also urged that the United States, the International Monetary Fund and other countries, which have frozen the previous Afghan government funds, to immediately release the money to the new regime in Kabul.
The Indian diplomatic establishment could be activated to canvas across the international community how devoid of substance the Qureshi discourse is. The international community can be convinced easily with the presentation of certain stark truths about the interim Taliban government in Kabul. The whole world knows it is not an inclusive one. The regime is drawn mostly from the country’s dominant Pashtun ethnic group. There is no space for women and other ethnic groups herein. The regime has of late incorporated a couple of representatives from Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras communities. But such elements are all very close to radical Islamists in the country.
In containing the Taliban, New Delhi must reach out to all responsible governments in the world. Besides, it should have onboard those Muslim nations and groups that are for a moderate version of Islam.
Addressing the 76th session of Unite Nations General Assembly last week, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi rightly warned the global community against the dangers of terrorism. He appealed that Afghan soil must not be used for terror activities. He also proposed that the nations trying to use the current Afghan situation as a tool should be stopped.
One hopes the entire international community would heed this essential Modi message and act in the interest of peace and stability. Regrettably, some important democratic capitals, such as Washington and London, have not really been strict about containing terrorism. Islamabad has throughout acted as a key villain in spreading terrorism the world over. The Pakistan army gave shelter to the notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden. It has supported and armed the Taliban for the last 20 years. Yet Islamabad continues to receive considerable aid from Washington and London from time to time . All democracies must get together and rein in Islamabad if they really seek to contain Islamist terrorism .
( The author is a Delhi-based journalist )
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