Afghan peace talks are underway in Qatar’s capital Doha. This is the first large-scale face-to-face meeting between the US-backed government and the Taliban in Afghanistan. US Secretary of State Mike Pence also participated in the reconciliation effort. The meeting is being held in Doha, primarily in the interest of the United States. But Afghanistan’s two neighbors – India and Pakistan – will be watching the meeting in Qatar with more interest than the Afghan people.
The geopolitical interests of these two hostile neighbors in South Asia have a deep connection with what will be decided at the Doha meeting on future power-sharing in Afghanistan.
Ever since President Trump announced his determination to withdraw the US military presence from Afghanistan, India and Pakistan have been working hard to secure their interests in a future war-torn country.
Both India and Pakistan want peace and stability in Afghanistan. But there is a huge difference in their position on how to ensure this. Most observers believe that both India and Pakistan are more concerned about the future of the two countries than they are about the 20-year war in Afghanistan.
What does Pakistan want!
Security analyst Hassan Askar Rizvi of Islamabad told the BBC that Pakistan now really wants stability in Afghanistan. But they want a government in power in Kabul with which they will be closer than India.
Pakistan has always said that their main concern is peace and stability in Afghanistan. They do not believe which government came to power in Kabul. But Hassan Askar Rizvi feels that Pakistan wants the Taliban to be an important ally, no matter which future government comes to Kabul.
Why is Pakistan trusting the Taliban so much? Hasan Askar Rizvi said, “While it is not the case that the Taliban are now talking about Pakistan, those who think so do not know the inside story well. But still, Islamabad feels that The Taliban will dominate India over Pakistan. India is a non-Muslim country for the Taliban. The matter is very clear for them.
Hasan Askar Rizvi said that Pakistan strongly believes that India’s growing economic and political influence in Afghanistan over the past decade poses a serious threat to its security. Pakistan believes that Indian intelligence agencies, in connivance with the Afghan Intelligence Department, are supporting anti-Pakistan terrorists, helping separatists in Balochistan. Pakistan wants a change in this situation.
Pakistan’s association with the Taliban has been going on for a long time. Islamabad supported the Taliban in the Afghan civil war in the 1990s. After the Taliban came to power in 1996, Pakistan was one of only three countries to recognize their legitimate government.
Taliban leaders have found refuge in Pakistan. Islamabad also played a key role in the Taliban peace deal with the US in February. The United States unanimously acknowledges that.
Many observers believe that the Taliban are not subject to Pakistan. As evidence, they say, fundamentalist Imam Mollah Abdul Hakim is leading the Taliban in a Doha reconciliation meeting. But Pakistan wanted Abdul Gani Baradar, a sub-member of the late Taliban leader Mullah Omar, with whom many believe there were close ties between the Pakistani military – to lead the deal.
Fahd Humayun, a foreign policy researcher who is a special journal on diplomacy, writes that the top leadership of the Taliban now includes some people who are not close to Pakistan like their predecessors. They do not know the history of that relationship.
Fahd Humayun feels that a new group of Taliban leaders are now looking at Doha instead of Islamabad to protect their interests.
Hassan Askar Rizvi said that there was uneasiness over the way in which a part of the Taliban in Pakistan worked hard to establish an Islamic state in Afghanistan. Islamabad may not even want a Taliban government anymore.
He said that there was growing concern in Pakistan that the Taliban could pose a threat to Pakistan if they came to power in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Taliban may have built ties with Pakistani Taliban groups such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP). At least 6,000 Pakistani Taliban members of the United Nations are now involved in Afghanistan’s civil war. Nevertheless, Pakistan feels that the Taliban’s important role in power in Afghanistan is the best option for them at this time.
For India, the arch enemy of Pakistan, the picture is exactly the opposite. The prospect of establishing another Taliban government in Afghanistan and an Islamic state under his leadership is like a nightmare for the Modi government in Delhi.
Why is India so worried?
Sanjay Bhardwaj, a professor of South Asian studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi, told the BBC, “If the Taliban goes against a democratic constitution, then India-Afghanistan relations will be complicated, which will lead to India’s national security.” There is danger. “
Professor Bhardwaj feels that the Taliban have supported anti-India Islamists. This is why India has always wanted peace talks to be under the control of the Afghan government.
Afghanistan is important not only for internal security, but also for India to balance the trade of Central Asia and Delhi’s disputes with China and Pakistan. Apart from Iran, there are several important Central Asian countries in the north of Afghanistan. Indian Ocean to the south, Pakistan and Iran-Pakistan to the east.
Observers believe that this is why India has been increasing its role in Afghanistan’s economy, security, education and culture over the past decade. India’s investment in social infrastructure and projects such as roads, bridges, dams, etc. is 3 billion; Which is the highest after the United States.
According to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, 1,600 Indian Afghans work in the banking, information technology and health sectors. Many Indian companies are doing business by opening offices there. And that’s why Delhi is worried about a possible reshuffle in Afghanistan.
Indian Foreign Minister S Jaishankar addressed the opening ceremony of the Doha meeting online. Indian diplomat JP Singh has reached Doha.
Observers say that India has negotiated with the US to ensure that its interests in Afghanistan are not compromised.
India’s Taliban problem
India does not want the Taliban’s influence in Afghanistan to turn the country into a radical Islamic state. Delhi is aware that Pakistan has close ties with the Taliban and is not interested in India.
Former Indian Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar told BBC Hindi that the Taliban was no longer a radical Islamic organization. His attitude towards India has also changed a bit.
For example, he said that the Taliban acknowledged the presence of two former Indian diplomats as observers when Russia invited some Taliban representatives in November 2016.
Ashok Sajjanhar said, “The Taliban of the 1990s and the Taliban of today are not one. They want an Islamic state, but at the same time they have no objection to everyone’s participation. They know that they recognized the international community needed. “
Sajjanhar believes that the attitude towards India is positive among ordinary Afghan people. In his words, “They know that no one else will do it the way India is helping them.” No government should come in future, they cannot deny this reality. ‘
Not only the Taliban or Pakistan, but also the increasing interest of China in Afghanistan in recent times is another reason for India’s headache. China has recently invested heavily in Afghanistan’s copper and iron ore mines. India also fears that China may forge closer ties with the Taliban with the help of Pakistan in the future.
It is not possible to say with certainty that the Doha meeting will decide on the power-sharing. However, many experts believe that there may be a play before the US election. But the United States will withdraw its military presence today or tomorrow. There is no doubt that Afghanistan will change a lot then. India and Pakistan are preparing to face that reality. Source: BBC Bangla