Afghanistan is in a transitionary phase. The ongoing withdrawal of US troops from the country has come as an opportunity for the Taliban. The US-Afghan coalition forces had badly hit them. However, as US forces withdraw, it has come to light that the Taliban is fast recapturing parts of Afghanistan from the government in Kabul. As per many estimates, the Taliban now controls more than 40% of the Afghan territory.
In the wake of these news, reports about India and the Taliban holding quiet talks have emerged. Recently, the Taliban has repeatedly assured India that they would not allow the use of the territory they control for anti-India activities. All of it has raised a few eyebrows and questions about India’s conventional support to the Afghan government in Kabul, a staunch adversary of the Taliban.
However, just some days before the reported India-Taliban dialogue, Mohammed Umer Daudzai, Special Envoy of the Afghan President to Pakistan, had given an interview to news magazine ‘The Week’. In his interview, he revealed some unknown facts. Daudzai said that the Taliban had reached out to India more than 24 times before the current discussion. He further stated that for quite some time, he has been urging the Indian authorities to engage the Taliban at talks. Although the Afghan government itself has dismissed any possibility of establishing a coalition government with the Taliban, Daudzai feels the latter has undergone several changes. Radical Taliban leaders like Mullah Omar and Mullah Mansour have been eliminated, and there is a new team of field commanders who want to earn money. This change makes the Taliban open for talks and possible reconciliation for business considerations.
At the same time, India’s relationship with the recognised Afghan government in Kabul remains excellent. At the end of last year, India announced launching 100 development projects in Afghanistan worth $80 million. In fact, since the start of the Afghan War, India has initiated 400-plus projects worth $3 billion here. No part of Afghanistan is said to be untouched by India.
At the same time, the United States is also keen on enhancing the Indian role in Afghanistan, while Russia has held several consultations with the Indian side over the matter. These engagements and India’s role in Afghanistan also find strong backing from the Central Asia countries and Iran, with China and Pakistan being the only natural exceptions.
Considering these facts, the recent India-Taliban engagement, simultaneously with India’s strong commitment towards Kabul’s Ashraf Ghani government, highlight the success of Indian foreign policy and diplomacy in Afghanistan.