American Exit From Afghanistan

GS 2 Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests

Source: The Indian Express dated 11/05/2021

Context: US President Joe Biden announced the departure of American troops from Afghanistan by September 11 this year, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the attacks on US in 2001. Announcing the decision, President Joe Biden declared on Wednesday that “it is time to end the forever war” in Afghanistan.\


  • Why did the US decide to withdraw?
    • This is the longest-running conflict in US history
    • It  has led to the deaths of nearly 2,400 American troops
    • It has cost the country around $2 trillion
    • Changing Priorities From Middle East to Indo-Pacific.
  • Doha Agreement in 2020 (US and Taliban) mentioned some conditions including
    • Comprehensive Ceasefire between the Afghan Government and Taliban.
    • Troops withdrawal
    • Taliban commitmentprevention of the use of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies.
    • Intra-Afghan dialogue regarding power-sharing
    • Prisoner release – release of 5000 fighters from Afghan-run jails –  as demanded by Taliban.
 What are the implications of this withdrawal?
  • For Middle East – As America steps back from the Middle East, learning to live with neighbours might then become an urgent priority for most regional powers.
    • Turkey
      • might realize that its troubled economy can’t sustain the ambitious regional policies.
      • may normalise it’s relations with Saudi Arabia & Egypt.
    • Normalization of Saudi-Iran Conflict: Saudi Arabia and Iran may now explore means to reduce bilateral tensions and moderate their proxy wars in the region.
  • For Pakistan – The Taliban are a creation of the Pakistani security establishment. After the US invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban High Council operated from Quetta in Balochistan.
  • Gains
    • It persuaded the Taliban to do a deal with the Trump Administration
    • A Taliban capture of Afghanistan would finally bring a friendly force in power in Kabul after 20 years
    • India, which has had excellent relations with the Karzai and Ghani governments, would be cut to size.
  • Concerns
    • It will need to shoulder the entire burden of the chaos that experts predict.
    • Refugees Pakistan currently hosts more than 1.5 million registered Afghan refugees and another one million unregistered Afghans
    • Instability in Afghanistan– might spill over the border.
    • The Taliban might become independent of Pakistan.
      • Eg :  Peshawar school massacre in 2014, terror attack on an army-run primary and secondary school, left 150 dead- was perpetrated by Pakistan’s Taliban.)
  • For India – The Blinken proposal(proposed by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in March gave India a role, by recognising it as a regional stakeholder, but this proposal seems to have no future now.
    • India has invested considerable resources in Afghanistan.
  • India’s interest in Central Asia – might be affected
    • Eg TAPI pipeline project
  • Radicalism-The Haqqani group, fostered by the ISI, would have a large role in any Taliban regime-could influence India’s youth through propaganda.
  • India-focused militants – Eg:  Laskhar- e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohamed – relocated in large numbers to Afghanistan – might become active.
  • Taliban – Pakistan axis -Pakistani Army sees Afghanistan in terms of “strategic depth” in its forever hostility with India.

History of India-Taliban Relations

  • share a bitter history
  • IC-814 hijack in 1999 – made India to release terrorists
  • It included Maulana Masood Azhar who founded Jaish-e-Mohammed that went on to carry out terror attacks on Parliament (2001), in Pathankot (2016) and in Pulwama (2019).
  •  Never gave diplomatic and official recognition to the Taliban when it was in power during 1996-2001.
  • India was part of the Moscow-led talks with the Taliban in November 2018.(attended as ‘non-official representattives’ ).

Way forward

Soaring levels of violence in Afghanistan and last week’s attack on Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of Maldives, underlines South Asia’s enduring challenges with terrorism.
An independent, sovereign, democratic, pluralistic and inclusive Afghanistan is crucial for peace and stability in the region.

  • The Afghan peace process should be Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.
  • India should urge other nations to adopt the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism (proposed by India at UN in 1996).
  • If needed, India shouldn’t hesitate to negotiate with the Taliban diplomatically.

And finally achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan will require patience and compromise among all parties. Initiatives like the Heart of Asia conference of which India is a part of, can be used to achieve the same.

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