New Delhi / Kabul
After the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, there is a lot of speculation about the future of that country. Many believe that this will strengthen the Taliban and that they can once again regain power in Afghanistan. At the same time, many also say that as long as America controls the Afghan government, the Taliban cannot occupy power. Amid all this speculation, former Indian Ambassador Yogesh Gupta gave detailed information on the role of the Taliban, Pakistan, America and India in Afghanistan.
Taliban control 50 districts
He said it was the rumor of the US troop withdrawal in early 2020 that encouraged the Taliban to take full control of Afghanistan. Since then, the Taliban have stepped up their armed campaign. According to some estimates, in May 2021, the Taliban took full control of more than 50 districts in Afghanistan. Not only that, he also surrounded four major cities in Afghanistan.
The military cannot manage the security of the country
The Afghan national army and police, who take the reins of the country’s security, grapple with low morale and corruption. Security forces have already surrendered to the Taliban due to lack of assistance from Kabul. Those who survive are unable to resist the Taliban car bombs and IEDs.
The Taliban want to establish an Islamic regime
The Taliban are determined to expand their control and then get stronger. They consider it their religious duty to establish an Islamic emirate in Afghanistan. So far, they have not shown interest in forming a real government. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Senior Leader Abdullah Abdullah are currently visiting the United States to meet with President Joe Biden. They persuade Biden to delay the complete withdrawal of American troops. The Biden administration has also indicated that it will continue to provide political, economic and military assistance to the Afghan government.
Taliban can capture Kabul
In such a situation, the fate of Afghanistan will now be in the hands of its own people. In the absence of US air support, advisers and weapons, the capital Kabul may be in Taliban hands soon. However, the Afghan president remains more optimistic. If other ethnic groups such as the Hazara, Tajik and Uzbek leaders backed by Iran, Russia and other countries actively fight the Taliban, the civil war in Afghanistan could continue.
Pakistan continues its double game in Afghanistan. He says something else and does something else on the pitch. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has said his country opposes any military government in Afghanistan, but the Pakistani military continues to secretly support the Taliban. Pakistan has provided refuge, weapons, training and military assistance to the Taliban and their families. Without it, the Taliban cannot succeed in defeating the Afghan army and seizing the country.
The number of Taliban militants is estimated to be between 60,000 and 80,000, which is far less than the number of approximately 350,000 in the ANA. Differences have been reported between Pakistani and Taliban leaders over whether the Americans are allowed to use Pakistani military bases, especially in Balochistan. The Pakistani government has officially refused to allow the use of these bases, but the Taliban issued a statement criticizing Pakistan (without naming Pakistan) for providing such support.
India’s role in Afghanistan
India has provided huge financial assistance to Afghanistan for professionals, infrastructure development, transport and security. The duty-free access of Afghan products to Indian markets has helped to further strengthen that country. Bilateral trade between India and Afghanistan was around $ 1.5 billion in 2018-19. India wants a representative broad-based government to be established in Afghanistan. This can bring peace, stability and inclusive governance and ensure the security of the progress of the past 20 years.
India is in contact with all major stakeholders in Afghanistan, including the Taliban. It will continue to play an important role in achieving the above goals with the support of the Afghan people and the cooperation of the United States, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and ‘other countries.
(Yogesh Gupta is a former Ambassador.)