Delhikabul ties must not waver
Pakistan’s hand is evident in the spate of attacks in Afghanistan
Afghanistan has now experienced four major Taliban and Islamic State (IS) terrorist attacks in 10 days and seven such attacks in the past month. What has triggered these latest assaults? At a time when they are either in control of or contesting nearly half of Afghanistan, the Taliban and their backers in Rawalpindi see the geopolitical environment beginning to turn against them. One, United States president Donald Trump has reversed his campaign pledge to end US involvement in the war. The US has now committed to massively increasing air support for the Afghan army. Two, after initially wooing the Pakistani military, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has become a fierce critic of Islamabad. The Taliban response seems to have two goals. One, rattle Mr Trump’s resolve. This seems to have failed with Mr Trump saying he is no longer interested in talks with the Taliban. Two, undermine the legitimacy of the Afghan government by showing it to be incapable of defending its people from such attacks. This has had some impact. Afghans on the street are as critical of their government as they are of Pakistan.
Behind all this are the machinations of the Pakistani military. The Taliban number two is the head of the Haqqani network, an organisation whose allegiance to Rawalpindi is not in question. Afghan intelligence has long argued that even IS in Afghanistan has at least covert support from Pakistan. Whatever the actual chain of command, it’s evident Rawalpindi has urged the Taliban and its affiliates to step up the pressure on Kabul and possibly force the US to reconsider its decision.
India must continue its steadfast support for the Kabul regime and a revived US war effort. The last Pakistan-backed Taliban regime existed concurrently with the worst unrest India has suffered in Kashmir. The Kabul regime has received pledge after pledge of Indian support and these cannot be tossed aside lightly. Lastly, an uneasy Afghanistan keeps Pakistan focused on its northwest rather than its southeast. The present wave of terror should be seen as a psychological weapon. And the commitment to supporting Kabul must not be allowed to waver.