Indian Endgame in Afghanistan

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Alika Mamdoova

Closing diplomatic missions, offices of international non-government organizations (INGOS), and private companies, Indians are running out of time for running out of Afghanistan.

There were several articles in Indian media during the last two months that the Indian intelligence chief held cordial meetings with Taliban leadership in Doha and the Taliban had ensured security to Indian interests in Afghanistan. However, such reports had never been confirmed or denied by Taliban leadership and emerging circumstances indicate that no such guarantees were provided by Taliban to Indian officials. Indian media always use terminologies of barbaric, terrorists, uncivilized, human rights abusers for Taliban who have a strong media monitoring system and must have complete documentation of this treatment of Indian media.

The Times of India reported on July 11, 2021, that Indian leadership failed to understand and judge the Afghan war situation and wasted huge money investing in 100 new community projects in Afghanistan in the last eight months without knowing their future.

India for claiming its place in Afghanistan and for pleasing the United States invested over US $3.6 billion in the last two decades and initiated the fourth phase of the Afghanistan development project on November 25, 2020. The major investment of the last 10 years was in northern Afghanistan bordering Central Asia. The reason for using the cover of INGOs in mountainous northern Afghanistan was a message to central Asian states that India wished to expand it INGOs activities in central Asian countries also.

India that is a member of SCO, wanted to use Afghanistan as a launchpad to extend its influence in the Central Asia States.

According to Indian media, the Minister of External Affairs Dr. Jaishankar during his virtual address at a global conference on Afghanistan stated that India’s development portfolio in Afghanistan has to date amounted to over US$ 3 billion. No part of Afghanistan today is untouched by the 400 plus projects that India has undertaken in all 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces.

Central Asian Think Tanks are trying to figuring out the reasons for the intelligence failure of India that concluded an agreement with President Ghani government for the construction of the Shah Toot Dam at a juncture of time when possible fall of Ghani government was written on the wall.

“How could a country so unaware about regional development signing long-term projects with a government that is fighting for it survival for the last four years? is a question regional development experts are raising about India.

India designed to use Chabahar port as a hub of trade activities to Afghanistan but Chinese entry into the regional scene and dealing to get hold of Chabahar Port was another endgame for India although India started in the year 2020 sending wheat supplies to Afghanistan via Chabahar Port. The Indian Army’s Border Roads Organisation constructed a major road in 2009 in the remote Afghan province of Nimroz, connecting Delaram to Zaranj. This has proved a viable alternative route for the duty-free movement of goods through the Chabahar port in Iran to Afghanistan. However, all such Indian initiatives for influencing the Afghan situation went to drain with the realities of the region.

Rudra Chaudhuri and Shreyas Shende in their paper “Dealing With the Taliban: India’s Strategy in Afghanistan After U.S. Withdrawal” published in June 2020, by CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE write that Indian experts often make the case that talking to the Taliban is of no value. Whether India likes it or not, some version of the Taliban will contribute to the future of Afghanistan’s political life. If India wants to protect its fundamental interests—of remaining engaged in Afghanistan and being able to support an independent government—it will have to make some uncomfortable choices and reposition its strategic actions with a view to mitigating the risks identified by its own officials and diplomats. Rakesh Sood argues that in order to remain “engaged in Afghanistan in the future,” India may have to build “new equities.” This will require India to be “actively involved” and, equally important, “to be seen to be actively involved” in a wider set of international and national conversations.

However, it looks that Indian diplomats have failed to judge the situation and they are rooted out from Afghanistan as they recently were rooted out from Iran. One should remember that Afghanistan is the land of endgames of many. Our older generation remembers the endgame of the former Soviet Union and we are watching the endgame of the United States and India.

Disclaimer:

The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

Central Desk
Central News Desk.

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