India’s Afghan Ambition

India must understand the ground realities of Afghanistan. If not all then majority of the population of Afghanistan want Taliban to rule Afghanistan, but almost all Afghans want the US to leave Afghanistan along with its associates, and the associates are not only the allied states but also the ones who are currently ruling over Afghanistan. In all cases, the equation of India’s Afghan Ambitions would remain “zero plus zero is equal to zero

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In his exclusive interview recorded in January 2020 to the Indian tabloid, the Print, Zamir Kabulov plainly stated that India has no influence at all in the Afghan Peace talks. Kabulov is a highest ranking Russian diplomat and special presidential envoy to Afghanistan. His response to the Indian anchor’s question about Indian role in Afghan Peace process was straightforward and blunt, “India has no influence”.

India always wanted a role in Afghanistan. Be it during Cold War, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, civil war in post Soviet withdrawal era, US invasion and war on terror, and most recently, US withdrawal and Afghan Peace Deal. India desperately wanted importance in Kabul not for Afghans but to engage Pakistan. India believes that if it can permanently and clandestinely engage Pakistan on the western front, it would be beneficial for India on Pakistan’s eastern front with India, especially on Line of Control (LOC). Furthermore, two open fronts for Pakistan would mean that Pakistan would constantly consider it as a hindering factor to toe the Kashmir conflict. Resultantly, Pakistan’s grip on internal security as well as on Kashmir would loosen and India can dictate itself in Kashmir. Importantly, the two front would require hefty increase in the defence budgets of Pakistan that would mean unreasonable burdens on Pakistan’s treasury.

Important to note is the fact that India, in recent past, has been displaying eagerness to be undisputed regional power. India’s hegemonic behaviour towards it’s smaller neighbours like Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan is an evidence that it seeks a regional hegemony. India wanted to portray itself as a key regional player so to attract attention. Frankly, India already has won that attraction of the US in South China Sea. It is evident that in trade war between US and China, East China Sea as well as the South China Sea would play pivotal role. US believes that it has what it takes to contain China in the East China Sea, owing to US presence in South Korea and Japan, but in South China Sea, it needed an alliance and India seemed well placed to cash on it. Importantly, the ongoing territorial conflict between China and India has turned India into a frontline of the US against China.

Since very recently, Indian Disinfo-Banks have been working overtime to write and issue the cheques on Indian talks with Afghan Taliban. The cheques as always get bounced as India is bankrupt when it comes to the credibility accounts. The EU-DisInfoLab scandal is still fresh in the memories of the keen readers. India, that claimed to have opened the channels of communication with factions of Taliban and initiating a dialogue, is yet again trying to paint itself in Afghan canvas. Afghan Taliban on the other hand has continuously distanced themselves from India for many reasons. Taliban have always considered India as an ally of the enemy, be it Indian alliance with the US or with anti-Taliban Afghan players. Interestingly, post Soviet withdrawal, India constantly supported northern alliance lead by Ahmad Shah Massoud against Taliban. Post 9/11, India played key role in Afghan invasion, especially by enhancing its support for the anti-Taliban elements. India’s relations with current Kabul regime are no secret. Former NDS chief, Amrullah Saleh and President Ashraf Ghani have time and again hailed the role of India in Afghanistan.

To bust the Indian balloon of exaggerations, it is enough to say that Taliban have always been aware of India’s role in Afghanistan. India’s presence in Tajikistan has always had attracted raised-eyebrows from Taliban. To add, Taliban are aware of the hegemonic design India seeks in the region and how it is in alliance with the US in the region against China.

Interestingly, Taliban have categorically and repeatedly mentioned that the land of Afghanistan under the rule of Taliban will never be used against any neighbouring state. This statement had two indications, firstly, Taliban clearly endorsed the statements of Islamabad that India is using Afghanistan to infiltrate terrorism in Pakistan, and secondly, Taliban openly warned India that Afghanistan under Taliban will put an end to the ongoing terror promotions in Afghanistan against Pakistan.

India must understand the ground realities of Afghanistan. If not all then majority of the population of Afghanistan want Taliban to rule Afghanistan, but almost all Afghans want the US to leave Afghanistan along with its associates, and the associates are not only the allied states but also the ones who are currently ruling over Afghanistan. In all cases, the equation of India’s Afghan Ambitions would remain “zero plus zero is equal to zero”.

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