ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

India marginalised in Afghan endgame

India marginalised in Afghan endgame
Highlights

It is rare that an obscure and uneducated person, never properly photographed, should lead a movement to power, and when thrown out of it, keep the flock united under his leadership. Not just that, also talk from position of strength, as the fighters gain more and more territory. Mullah Mohammed Umar was that Amir-ul-Momineen, the supremo who led the Afghan Taliban for two decades.

It is rare that an obscure and uneducated person, never properly photographed, should lead a movement to power, and when thrown out of it, keep the flock united under his leadership. Not just that, also talk from position of strength, as the fighters gain more and more territory. Mullah Mohammed Umar was that Amir-ul-Momineen, the supremo who led the Afghan Taliban for two decades.

Precisely when he died remains a matter of speculation and diplomatic posturing among the governments having a stake in Afghanistan’s stability and peace, and security analysts everywhere. The death’s confirmation has led to suspension of peace talks and has triggered a succession war within that has claimed the life of Omar's son Mullah Yaqub. That he was killed in Peshawar is significant.

Omar’s brother Mullah Mannan has also challenged the new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour, which not only smacks of a clan war, but also of deep apprehension among the Afghan Taliban about the role of Pakistan. Mansour, who favours reconciliation, is considered pro-Islamabad. Behind him and virtually talking down at the talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is Pakistan.

Islamabad sheltered Omar and created his mystique, yet telling a credulous world that it has nothing to do with the Afghan affairs, being itself a ‘victim’ of terrorism, drug-peddling and much else. Given its leverage on the Afghan Taliban, Islamabad (read Inter Services Intelligence–ISI) can take care of the succession challenge. Already, a key ‘strategic asset,’ Sirajuddin Haqqani of the Haqqani network, that has attacked at will the Kabul regime’s interests and the Indian Embassy in the past, is the deputy commander of the Taliban forces.

The victory-less withdrawal of US-led forces from Afghanistan after 13 years has once again placed Pakistan in an enviable position to influence the course in Afghanistan the way it desires. And it has China’s firm backing. A war-weary America, getting entangled in West Asia yet again while preparing for the presidential elections next year, appears to have conceded primacy to the Sino-Pak initiatives on the Afghan peace process. This is the case at least for now.

As much as this is Pakistan’s hour, India is getting marginalised in Afghanistan. Post-9/11, it had latched on to the American apron strings and, while investing two billion dollars and considerable goodwill among the Afghans, it failed to chart is own course. Arguably, it is not easy for India, not having a common border with Afghanistan.

This is a repeat of the past, when it supported Moscow’s intervention and when it quit, totally lost its way in that treacherous terrain – just the way British had done in the 19th century. India may have no option but to cultivate whoever gets Kabul, now and in near-future, and hope that Pakistan, given the internal contradictions and the deep distrust the Afghans nurse against Islamabad, does not succeed in securing “strategic depth.” But India would do well to guard its security interests, what with the Islamic State (IS) and Al Qaida turf war being fought on its frontiers and having deep internal security implications.

Show Full Article
Download The Hans India Android App or iOS App for the Latest update on your phone.
Subscribed Failed...
Subscribed Successfully...
More Stories


Top