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Prelims Capsule

International Relations

Taliban stop Exports Imports between India Afghanistan

Taliban stop Exports Imports between India Afghanistan


  • GS 2 || International Relations || India & its Neighbours || Afghanistan

Why in the news?

  • The Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO) informed that the Taliban has stopped the movement of cargo through transit routes of Pakistan, thereby stopping the imports from Afghanistan.
  • Currently, the Indian export profile includes sugar, pharmaceuticals, apparel, tea, coffee, spices, and transmission towers.


  • Recently, the Taliban has seized Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, raising questions over the US and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)trained Afghan Forces.
  • This is the first time since their ouster 20 years ago in the wake of the 9/11 strikes that Taliban fighters have entered the city — they first seized the Capital in 1996.
  • Meanwhile, the United States’ withdrawal necessitates the establishment of a new balance of power system in and around Afghanistan.

About Taliban

  • The Taliban, or “students” in the Pashto language, emerged in the early 1990s in northern Pakistan following the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The Taliban emerged in 1994 as one of the prominent factions in the Afghan Civil War.
  • A large majority of Taliban supporters are students from Afghan and Pakistani madrasa, hence the name Taliban or – in Pashto – students.

Concerns for India

  • Security Challenges for India-The rapid collapse of the Afghan government and the triumphant return of the Taliban will have a considerable impact around the world. The restoration of Taliban rule in Afghanistan with Pakistan’s support undoubtedly presents some very serious potential challenges for Indian security.
  • Support from Pakistan-Taliban as an organization gets a lot of support from Pakistan and ISI and hence, Taliban, victory in the peace deal would be a blow to India’s effort to reach Central Asia and positively engage the Afghan government.
    • Taliban leadership in Pakistan and the deep state of Pakistan will accelerate efforts to Talibanise the Gilgit-Baltistan and Mirpur-Muzaffarabad region.
    • Giving legitimacy to the Taliban will lead to further radicalization of the region. The Pakistan-based terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa, and Jaish-e-Mohammed will start filling up empty spaces in Afghanistan.
    • Given that the LeT and Jaish are operating in Afghanistan alongside the Taliban, this may justify for the Taliban to retaliate against India via Pakistan in J&K.
  • Development projects can be under threat-India is a part of several development projects in Afghanistan which will be at threat from terrorist groups including the Haqqani network, Al Qaeda, Islamic State.
  • Spread of International Terrorism: A bigger challenge for India will be the Taliban’s renewed support for international terrorism, as well as Pakistan’s re-direction of jihadi groups that have allegedly fought with the Taliban towards India.
  • Religious Fundamentalism: The Taliban, like all radical groups, will struggle to balance its religious ideology with the imperatives of state interests.
  • New Regional Geopolitical Alignments: New regional geopolitical alignments (such as China-Pakistan-Taliban) may emerge that are detrimental to India’s interests.
    • Furthermore, the United States and the West will attempt to shape international attitudes toward the new regime.
    • Russia, for example, has a security treaty with Tajikistan and has increased troop deployments there to prevent a destabilizing spillover from Afghanistan’s turmoil into Central Asia.
  • Strategic Concern: The Taliban’s control will also mean a bigger hand for the Pakistani military and intelligence agencies to influence outcomes for the country, which will mandate a much smaller role for Indian development and infrastructure work that has won it goodwill over the past 20 years.

 Why is Afghanistan important to India?

  • Regional Balance of Power:Afghanistan is tied to India’s vision of being a regional leader and a great power, coupled with its competition with China over resources and its need to counter Pakistani influence. India’s ability to mentor a nascent democracy will go a long way to demonstrate to the world that India is indeed a major power, especially a responsible one. India’s interest in Afghanistan relates to its need to reduce Pakistani influence in the region.
  • Energy Security:The pipeline project TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India), which seeks to connect an energy-rich Central to South Asia, will only see the light of the day if stability is established in Afghanistan
  • Strategic Location:For access to the landlocked Central Asian countries that border Afghanistan.
  • Natural Resources:The country is home to resource deposits worth one trillion dollars, according to the US Geological Survey.
  • Regional Security: A stable Afghanistan is important for regional security in South Asia
  • India also assists Afghan nationals under its Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation (ITEC) and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) programs. So far, more than 65,000 students have studied in India under various scholarships, and there are 15,000 such students presently.

Suggestions for India

  • Immediate initiatives- India should securely evacuate Indian diplomatic personnel and other citizens from Afghanistan. This will require a major logistical effort. India should also facilitate emergency visas and evacuation of those close to India, who will be under threat. India recently received an invitation to the “Troika Plus” talks in Doha. It should actively engage in that.
    • The government of India must also offer refuge to those Afghans who have worked with Indian initiatives and are desperate to avoid potential retribution from the Taliban
  • Diplomatic initiatives
    • India must make all possible efforts to get the international community to hold the Taliban to its word on letting all foreigners leave with peace, protecting the lives of all Afghan citizens, and respecting international humanitarian law.
    • India also chairs the Taliban Sanctions Committee of the UNSC. It will have an important role in framing the international response to the Taliban’s demands for the lifting of all sanctions against its leaders.
    • Similarly, India should also make the international community provide humanitarian assistance to the large number of Afghan people displaced by fighting.
    • Establishment of the democratic process with respect for human rights, including women’s rights.
    • The peace process should not leave any ungoverned spaces where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.
  • Domestic initiatives- India must maintain vigil against a resurgence of cross-border terrorism that could quickly destabilize Kashmir and escalate the conflict between India and Pakistan.
  • Why should India Directly engage with the Taliban?
    • Other countries will engage with the Taliban: Taliban is going to be part of the political scheme of things in Afghanistan, and unlike in 1996. A large number of players in the international community are going to recognize/negotiate/do business with the Taliban. So, basic statecraft requires that we follow that route as well.
    • Countering Pakistan-Taliban relations: The Taliban is looking for regional and global partners for recognition and legitimacy, especially in the neighborhood. So the less proactive the Indian engagement with the Taliban, the stronger Pakistan-Taliban relations would become.
    • Withdrawal shows a weak strategic resolve: India needs to court all parties in Afghanistan, including the Taliban if it wants to ensure the security of its civilian assets there. Withdrawing from Afghanistan now because the Taliban is on the rise (and we do not want to have relations with them) will go on to highlight how weak our strategic resolve is.
    • Opportunity for other countries:  If India is not proactive in Afghanistan at least now, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, and China will emerge as the shapers of Afghanistan’s political and geopolitical destiny. This will be detrimental to Indian interests.

Mains model Question

  • Recently, the Taliban has seized Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan. Discuss the Challenges and concerns for India. Also, suggest some steps India should take to engage with Afghanistan under the Taliban.