Question: A paradigm shift in Taliban’s policy on India has potential to change India- Afghanistan relationship in the future. Comment.
Answer: The Taliban has given up on its ideology of Gazwa-e-Hind or conquest of India as central to its India policy. This significant change will mean that Taliban will give up on its Kashmir stance, paving way for renewing its bilateral ties with Indian government.
Significance of change in Taliban’s policy
- International support on Kashmir issue
Apart from Pakistan, Taliban was the only major organization that had keen interest in Kashmir issue and had demanded UN intervention from time to time. With Taliban abandoning its Kashmir stance as an internal matter of India, the diplomatic victory of Indian government is evident. This will also mean that the government will have less opponents to tackle on international stage.
- Strengthening Indo-Afghan relations
There was a fear that India’s relationship with Afghan state will deteriorate if Taliban comes to power due to the history of sour relations between the two. The change in stance by Taliban is an indication that it intends to abandon its old policy to forge a new relationship with India.
- Tackling Pakistan
Pakistani army using factions of Taliban as its extended militia is not a secret. With Taliban’s move towards India, the Pakistani army will lose one of its proxy, that was regularly used to destabilize Afghan civil government and its ties with India.
Potential drawbacks of relations with Taliban
- Distrust in civilian government
India’s relationship with civilian government in Afghanistan is very important and India has lot at stake in Afghanistan infrastructure projects. The central Asian gateway that India intends to develop will be secure only in the hands of a civilian government and not rogue organization such as Taliban.
- Factionalism in Taliban
The Taliban is riddled with smaller factions with affiliations to various government and terrorist organisations. It is difficult to maintain a uniform policy with regard to an organization such as Taliban that does not operate in a centralised manner but through rogue groups.
Thus, the change in policy is of course significant but India must watch its steps very carefully as any wrong step can spell disaster for India’s hard fought influence in Afghan politics.