How to play the Kabul game?

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Synopsis: After the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, India needs to evolve a strategy to secure its interest in the region.

India recently held Delhi regional security dialogue on Afghanistan. It was attended by security chiefs of Russia, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Though Pakistan and China were also invited, they declined to attend the event.

Read more: Afghan tangle: No easy options for New Delhi, especially given broader threats posed by Beijing, Islamabad

What was the message sent by the summit?
The summit sends three strong messages:
-Delhi is an important Player and will remain engaged with Afghanistan.
-Solution for the Afghanistan crisis requires a consensus of regional players.
-Afghanistan humanitarian crisis requires urgent attention.

What was the outcome of the Delhi declaration?

Read more: Allow unimpeded aid into Afghanistan, say NSAs in Delhi Declaration

Though countries showed consensus, The chances of success seem difficult because each country has its own objective.

What are the challenges for India in achieving its Afghanistan objectives?

The main challenge for India is to bring all other stakeholder countries on the same road. At present, every country’s aims and objectives differ vis-à-vis India.

India: To ensure that Afghanistan is not used by Pakistan for terrorist activities against India. India also seeks to focus on Central Asia and South Asia connectivity through Afghanistan.

Russia: Russian version of the Delhi declaration omitted the objective: “to ensure Afghanistan would never become a safe haven for global terrorism”. It also did not commit to the Declaration’s 2022 timeframe for another meeting. Thus, it is an indication of a difference in approach towards Afghanistan.

Pakistan wants to control the government and government formation in Afghanistan. Pakistan will host the Troika-plus summit which will include the US, China, Russia.

Iran, which is a largely Shia country, wants to keep radicalization in check, in Afghanistan. It also wants Afghanistan to buy oil and natural gas from Iran.

Central Asian countries want peace and stability in the region, they also want to supply oil and natural gas to Afghanistan. For example, Turkmenistan approach Afghanistan for a gas pipeline.

What is India’s approach towards Afghanistan?

Following are India’s aims regarding Afghanistan:

-Provide Afghan people humanitarian assistance;
-Ensure that Afghan territory is not used to spread radicalism or terrorism;
-Preserve the social and economic gains made over the past two decades;
-Establish inclusive governance, with the representation of women and minorities;
-Allow the United Nations to play an important role; implement the United Nations Security Council resolution 2593;
-A unified international response to the current situation.

Read more: India’s future Afghan policy – Explained, pointwise

What should be the way forward for India?

Though India does not support the Taliban or the Taliban regime, it has to secure its regional interest. India has begun engaging with the Taliban government on international platforms. This combined with regional and multilateral engagements will help India to become an important stakeholder in the Future of Afghanistan.

Read more: What can India do?

Source: This post is based on the following articles:

“How to play the Kabul game” published in the Times of India on 11th November 2021.

“Undefined role: On India-Afghanistan bilateral relations” published in The Hindu on 12th November 2021.

“Helping Afghanistan” published in Business Standard on 11th November 2021.

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