Kabul has fallen again to. Surprisingly, so has the where the legendary defied both the Soviets and . Even more surprisingly, has stayed silent so far.
It was in 1996 that took over Kabul the last time around. Following a version of extreme Islam, it unleashed a reign of terror in Afghanistan. It also exported terror to . It sent jihadi fighters in the form of the mujahideen to liberate Kashmir.
Will the Taliban End Up Under the Influence?
There is one event that is etched in the memory of the region and must surely be indelible in the Indian consciousness. On December 24, 1999, five terrorists hijacked a plane from and forced the pilot to fly it to Kandahar. fighters surrounded the plane to prevent Indian military operations to rescue the hostages.
India capitulated to the demands of . It released Maulana Masood Azhar, Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and Mushtaq Ahmed Zargar. Azhar went on to found Jaish-e-Mohammed, a deadly terrorist group in that is infamous for striking the Indian parliament and conducting the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Sheikh was arrested for abducting and murdering American journalist Daniel Pearl. Zargar has been sending jihadis to Kashmir.
India’s capitulation in 1999 is still a black mark on its reputation. Bamiyan in 2001 despite requests from Buddhist communities all over the world. In the eyes of , is a land of Hindus that oppresses Muslims and must be defeated, if not converted, to Islam.sees as a soft target. It sees as a land of kafirs who worship idols that need to be smashed. It is important to remember that blew up the historic statues of the Buddha at
As in the 1990s, chaired the special session of the UN Security Council on Afghanistan. Yet failed to take a position on the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. No independent statement was forthcoming.is a clear and present danger to . In August,
Can India Afford to Lose Afghanistan to the Taliban and Pakistan?
It is an open secret thathave been nurtured by . Ever since its birth in 1947, has sought strategic depth against . The great Mughal city of Lahore is merely 24 kilometers from the Indian border. India’s population, economy and manufacturing capabilities dwarf Pakistan’s. Therefore, Islamabad has always sought strategic depth by controlling Afghanistan. In the past, have acted as auxiliaries to the Pakistani army and carried out numerous operations against . The actions of and other jihadi fighters have given Islamabad plausible deniability in its war of terror against .
The victory of 15% of Pakistan’s population is Pashtun. This community was arbitrarily divided by the Durand Line into Afghanistan and British in 1893. Pashtun nationalists consider it a humiliating colonial legacy and have never accepted it. As Pashtun power rises, so does the threat to Pakistan’s territorial integrity.is a double-edged sword for . On the one hand, Islamabad has achieved its objective of strategic depth. This time, have even taken over the . On the other hand, this victory will fan Pashtun nationalism. Lest we forget,
Pakistan’s solution to its Pashtun problem is to use an increasingly extreme version of Islam to tie the country together. In this version of Islam, fascist party. He has damned Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for leading a genocidal regime that kills innocent Muslims. This narrative seeks to unify the Pashtuns, the Balochs, the Sindhis, the Punjabis and other Muslim communities of against . The Pashtuns are lionized as the greatest fighters of the region and encouraged to fight a jihad against for the liberation of fellow Muslims in Kashmir.is the bogeyman. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has constantly called the Bharatiya Janata Party a Hindu
Ajit Doval is India’s national security adviser. In 1999, he negotiated withfor the release of hostages. He is well aware of their designs. Yet has adopted a wait-and-see approach to Afghanistan. Presumably, wants to focus on its China border. Yet it is inevitable that and will menace on the west.
must take a bolder stand against now and not wait until the danger is at its door. New Delhi has failed to speak up for a democratically elected legitimate government in Kabul. Instead, it has accepted the takeover by as a fait accompli. Like , Afghanistan is a country with tremendous ethnic and cultural diversity. is a good model for a future Afghan democracy.
India Can and Must Act
In realpolitik terms,is now dominant across Afghanistan. Indian policymakers might think that they can do little to intervene. They do not have the supply lines, military or intelligence wherewithal and political capital to operate in landlocked Afghanistan. So, dealing with the devil now in charge might seem to be the only realistic option.
Yet many Indians forget that their country commands much soft power in Afghanistan. Afghans who do not supporthave always looked up to , not , as a model for their country. So, support for ’s democratically elected government would strengthen India’s appeal among millions of Afghans.
National Resistance Front (NRF) led by Ahmad Massoud. Historically, has been more comfortable backing Amrullah Saleh, the former vice president who has declared himself as acting president of Afghanistan. However, Saleh is tainted by his association with Ashraf Ghani, the former Afghan president. Ghani has little credibility left after his flight from Kabul. He handed over the capital and the country to on a platter without even the pretense of a fight. Ghani’s reputation for corruption, arrogance and incompetence has made him a persona non grata in Afghanistan. The anti-Taliban Afghans have not forgiven Saleh for going along with Ghani, and he has thin support in the country now.could also consider supporting ’s
In a clan-based traditional society, Massoud has emerged as the tallest anti-Taliban leader. He is helped by the fact that he is the son of Massoud Jr. trained at the prestigious British military academy Sandhurst. He entered Kabul the day Ghani fled the country. Since then, he has put up a fight against and is now leading a guerrilla force in . Massoud Jr. has called for a national uprising against and is emerging as ’s best hope to take on ..
It is in India’s strategic interest to back Massoud Jr.’s NRF.have won many battles so far, but they have yet to win the war for Afghanistan. Ethnic groups like the Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Hazaras and others are bound to rally against their harsh, intolerant regime. Many Pashtuns will join them. Massoud Jr. needs backing from powers like , Britain and the US to carry on the fight against . Otherwise, this hardline regime will inevitably export terror to the rest of the world again.
Of all the world powers, China has entered the fray in Afghanistan. Beijing has already hosted leaders of and is willing to work with them. Russia is staying very quiet and there are rumors that it has made its own deal with .will suffer the most from the Taliban’s terror exports. Islamabad will direct against to preserve and to avenge New Delhi’s liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. Even
With the US pulling out dramatically and chaotically, Afghans who opposedfor decades need support. Just as once backed Bangladeshis, they must now assist Afghans fighting .
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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