Delhi Feared US Bid Could Plunge Af Back Into A Civil War And Enable Pak To Move Jihadis Towards India
US President Donald Trump’s shock announcement that he had called off the peace negotiations with the Taliban brings the region back to where it had started. Apart from Pakistan, all other powers in the region have collectively breathed a quiet sigh of relief.
India, which had been virtually out in the cold in the talks, sees more regional stability in the loss of the deal rather than in its completion. The deal itself was seen in New Delhi as a withdrawal agreement rather than a peace deal. This sentiment was echoed by many in the region — the Afghan government itself and almost all of the Central Asian republics. Moscow, which hosted its own track of peace talks with the Taliban (with two meetings in February and May), is the other power that believes making a deal with the Taliban would bring peace to Afghanistan and keep Islamic State terror group at bay.
India’s decision to strip Article 370 in J&K, while always on the Modi government’s agenda, was triggered by the prospect of increased regional instability once the Pakistan-Taliban-US deal came into being. Top level sources told TOI that it wasn’t just the Trump-Imran meeting or the “mediation” that spooked India.
On September 2, the American special envoy had told Afghanistan leaders that US would pull 5,400 troops from Afghanistan within 135 days of signing an agreement with the Taliban
The US attempt to whitewash the Taliban as it headed for the exit would do two things — plunge Afghanistan back into a civil war and enable Pakistan to move its jihadis towards India, particularly Kashmir. The government also feared that a post-Soviet situation could return to Afghanistan, and spill over into Kashmir. In the past 18 years, no Indian government has begun talks with the Taliban as a legitimate actor, resisting many calls to do so. Trump’s announcement came on the day foreign ministers of Pakistan, China and Afghanistan were meeting in Islamabad to work out future plans after the USTaliban peace agreement. This development has been the hardest blow to Pakistan and, by extension, China.
In the past few months, Pakistan has enjoyed growing sa
lience in the west, as Islamabad was seen to be “delivering” the Taliban to the negotiating table, starting with releasing Taliban’s co-founder Mullah Baradar from prison to conduct the talks in Doha. Pakistan has maintained that keeping Taliban in the power structure in Kabul would be key to peace. Taliban, whose primary mentor and sponsor is Pakistan, had refused to talk to the elected government.
Pakistan has used its putative role in the Afghan peace process to push its pressure tactics on Kashmir. In recent weeks, Pakistan has used the nuclear bogey to paint a spectre of a flashpoint between India and Pakistan which it said could affect a peace deal in Afghanistan. Trump’s announcement removed that false leverage from Islamabad.
Now, it can not only not di