A stable, cooperative and terror free Afghanistan is priority for India. Stability in Afghanistan is must to maintain peace in Central and South Asia. Even if we look back in 1989, we will find that terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir had also started when Pak-sponsored Afghan Jehadis were out of business due to Soviet withdrawal. India needs friendly Afghanistan to keep Pakistan in check from both western and eastern sides. India also has civilizational ties with Afghanistan. In ancient times, Buddhism had spread in Afghanistan from India. As a friend India has invested excessively in Afghanistan for its all-round development. India had made their parliament building, developed Salma Dam which is recognized as India Afghanistan friendship dam and lots more.
One of the other matter of concern for the world is that Afghanistan possesses a wealth of nonfuel minerals. These natural resources should not go in the wrong hands, specifically China. On the other hand, Afghanistan is important for trade. The country can help India to export its products to Europe. The main purpose of the Chabahar port in Iran and the railway line from Chabahar to Zahedan in Afghanistan is to link New Delhi with Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asia and Europe.
India’s Diplomatic reach to Taliban government
Previously, Shri J P Singh Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs and other Indian diplomats held a meeting with Taliban’s acting Foreign Affairs Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. This was India’s first ever formal official meeting with Taliban government after the fall of Ashraf Ghani government in August last year. The meeting took place in Kabul. The team discussed about India’s humanitarian aid and its distribution in different places of Afghanistan. They had visited several other places where Indian development projects were being implemented. As per the Ministry of External Affairs, the visit was specifically for providing humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan after the devastating earthquake. The focus will also be on resumption of diplomatic presence in Kabul.
The spokesperson of Taliban twitted that, Indian diplomats will meet Amir Khan Muttaqi, the acting foreign minister of Taliban government and the focus of discussion will be on diplomatic relations, bilateral trade and humanitarian aid. Muttaqi expressed his gratitude and requested for resuming India’s diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. Indian delegation after that visited to Indira Gandhi Children Hospital, school and power plant build with Indian funding in Kabul.
Indian team reached Kabul in an Indian Air Force transport aircraft. The aircraft was also carrying the first consignment of relief assistance for the devastating earthquake which killed 1,000 people.
Basically, when other South Asian countries like Pakistan and specifically China had strengthened their presence in Kabul. Indian can not keep itself out of the picture. That’s why to its was important to send back the officers to Kabul. Taliban government had also promised to give security guarantee to Indian delegation.
India’s Assistance to Afghanistan and its development
India had supplied several shipment of humanitarian aids to Afghanistan which consisting of 20,000 tons of wheat, 13 tons of medicines, 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines and winter clothing. The Indian consignments of aids were handed over to the Indira Gandhi children’s hospital in Kabul. India had supplied almost 60 million doses of polio vaccines and two tons of essential medicines to UNICEF. India had allocated nearly rupees 200 crore as aid for Afghanistan in budget of the year 2022-23. India is the largest regional donor for Afghanistan’s development. After sending relief materials to Afghanistan India confirmed that it will stand with Afghan people and will provide them required relief assistance.
Taliban government wants to re-establish ties with India
Government of India wants to make a new equation with the Taliban so that it can have a decent presence in Afghanistan. The vacuum will grow more if India do not engage itself with Taliban. Particularly, when China and Pakistan already had engaged themselves diplomatically with Taliban. India has economic and strategic aim in Afghanistan. To reach the Central Asian states India have to maintain a good relation with Taliban government. Diplomatic ties with the Taliban, development assistance and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan will prevent them from acting against Indian interests also.
The delegation saw that Indian embassy and the ambassador’s residence were in good shape after 10 months of pullout from Afghanistan on last year August. This shows that Taliban is determined to re-establish normalcy in Afghanistan. When JP Singh visited Afghanistan, the senior leaders of Taliban assured that they would not allow the land of Afghanistan to be used by Pakistan-based terror groups to attack India. They will be happy to act on specific intelligence for India.
In Qatar Taliban leaders had said that India “is very important for the subcontinent”, this is the reason why Afghan Taliban leaders want to maintain good relation with India in terms of trade, economic and cultural ties. This was said by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, deputy head of Taliban’s office in Doha. Stanekzai was trained from Indian Military Academy in 1980.
Deteriorating relation with Pakistan
In 1990’s when Taliban first came into power, India had closed its embassy and withdrew itself completely from Kabul. It was not a good step because that allowed Pakistan to well establish itself in Afghanistan and use the country as its strategic depth against India. But recently we have seen disputes between Pakistan and the Taliban. There are border related tensions between both countries. Other disputes are like fencing of the Durand line and sheltering of TTP members in Afghanistan triggered tensions between the two countries. This is a opportunity for New Delhi that the Taliban do not want to work with proxies of Pakistan.
Taliban government is grateful to Pakistan as they helped them to grab power from America backed Ashraf Ghani government. But, Pakistan’s continuous attempt of interfering in Kabul’s internal matter made Taliban government annoyed. Pakistan’s market is important for Afghanistan’s agricultural products. Recently, Pakistan closed its borders with Afghanistan which lead to waste of tons of Afghan vegetables and fruits.
Recently, Pakistan’s military aircraft bombed civilians’ houses in the southeastern Khost province. More than 40 civilians lost there lives due to that airstrike. Zabiullah Mujahid one of the minister of Taliban government said,” Pakistan should not test the patience of the people of Afghanistan”.
We all know that India have deep civilizational and cultural connect with Afghanistan. People of India and Afghanistan knows that there are millennia-old contact between Delhi and Kabul. India always want a positive and friendly relation with Afghanistan.
[…] After the US kicked the Taliban out of power in 2001, pro-India leaders like Hamid Karzai became powerful figures in Afghanistan. However, now that the Taliban returned to power, India’s influence in the region has decreased. In this situation, it is extremely beneficial for India if Islamabad and Kabul don’t come to a mutual agreement about the TTP situation. The more retaliatory measures Pakistan takes, the more the relationship between it and Afghanistan will become worse. On the other hand, if Pakistan does not take any retaliatory action against TTP, thanks to murky politics, the government will appear weak. The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will remain vulnerable to attacks by TTP. Either way, it is India that is all set to achieve some geopolitical advantage. It’s a lose-lose situation for Pakistan and a win-win situation for India as the efforts to establish diplomatic presence in Afghanistan is under process. […]