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A Significant Strategic Shift!

India has decided to keep in touch with a fraction of the Taliban outfit in Afghanistan, indicating a crucial change in its foreign policy.

Diplomats are of the opinion that such a move could be undoubtedly seen as very different from India’s long-standing Afghan Policy. Not only the current Narendra Modi Government, but also the previous Manmohan Singh Government and Atal Bihari Vajpayee Government in New Delhi have never wanted to hold direct talks with the Taliban. India joined the post-war reconstruction projects in Afghanistan while maintaining cordial ties with the Government in Kabul.

Afghan Talibans

According to sources close to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, talks with the Taliban cannot be called a part of New Delhi’s official diplomatic mission. The Indian Security Officials have contacted only those members of the terror outfit who are not influenced by Pakistan or Iran. According to sources, the Indian officials have held talks with top Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar, known commonly as Mullah Baradar. Baradar is a co-founder of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and was the deputy of Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Security Experts believe that establishing communication with Baradar is a very important move. In February 2020, he had signed an agreement with then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the basis of which Washington DC agreed to withdraw troops from the war-ravaged South Asian country. He is anti-Pakistan and anti-ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence, the premier intelligence agency of Pakistan, operationally responsible for gathering, processing, and analysing information relevant for national security from around the world). Baradar had held several important positions during the Taliban Regime (1996-2001) in Afghanistan. He was arrested in Karachi in 2010. After his release in 2018, he set up his base in Doha. Now, he is running the Taliban administration, and holding talks with the US from the capital city of Qatar.

Mullah Baradar

Making contact with this special fraction of the Taliban can be considered as tit for tat policy. In the past, Pakistan had made attempts to destabilise India with the help of Afghanistan-based terror outfit. During his recent US visit, Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar requested the Joe Biden Administration to take time before withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. At the global stage, New Delhi has always claimed that India’s security is closely related to that of Afghanistan’s. It would be a nightmarish for New Delhi, if the Taliban returns to power in Afghanistan with the help of Pakistan, under China’s influence.

At the same time, India is well aware of the fact that it would be difficult to influence the Biden Administration as far as the US’ Afghan Policy is concerned. Washington DC would only consider its own National Interest, and that is quite natural. India’s main intention is to deny Pakistan the opportunity to dictate terms in Afghanistan by maintaining friendly ties with the Taliban after the complete withdrawal of US troops from the country in near future. Hence, the Modi Administration is making a desperate attempt to diplomatically handle the issue, by co-ordinating with a particular fraction of the Taliban. However, the development is still in its initial stage, as India is yet to hold official talks with the Taliban.

Foreign Policy Experts have opined that the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan would certainly create a power vacuum not only in Afghanistan, but also in South Asia. It could further encourage the Taliban to increase terrorist activities in the region. Hence, India has started making diplomatic moves to counter such a situation with the help of the fraction of good Talibans.

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