Focus: GS-II International Relations

Why in news?

  • With the U.S. prepared to reduce its troop presence in Afghanistan – Afghanistan is bracing for an uncertain future.
  • The Taliban, who were ousted from power in 2001 after the U.S. invasion and have since been fighting both foreign troops and the Afghan government in Kabul, now control more than half of the country and contest the whole of it.

Background

  • In 2020, the U.S. reached an agreement with the Taliban after prolonged negotiations in Doha, Qatar’s capital, where the insurgents have a political office.
  • According to the agreement, the U.S. would withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan in 14 months in return for assurances from the Taliban that they would not allow Afghan soil to be used by transnational jihadist organisations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
  • The Taliban also committed that it would start direct talks with the Afghan government.
  • The talks began after the Afghan government released some 5,000 Taliban prisoners, which the U.S. had promised as part of its deal.
  • But the Taliban, while holding talks, continued its offensive. Since February, when the agreement with the U.S. was signed, the Taliban have conducted more than 13,000 attacks nationwide.

India’s Stand

  • India has been concerned that the Afghan peace process and premature withdrawal of NATO/US coalition forces could leave opportunities for terrorist networks that could target both Afghanistan and India.
  • As recently as May of this year, the UN issued a report providing evidence that despite assurances from the Taliban to the United States, Al Qaeda is still present and active in Afghanistan, harboured by the Taliban.
  • At a recent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting India called for an “immediate comprehensive ceasefire” in Afghanistan, while welcoming all opportunities to bring peace to the country.
  • India also described its reconstruction and development assistance to Afghanistan over the last nearly two decades.
  • According to India, for durable peace in Afghanistan, there is a need to put an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries operating across the Durand Line (in reference to Pakistan).

India outlined four requirements for peace and stability in Afghanistan:

  1. First, the process had to be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
  2. Second, there must be zero tolerance for terrorism.
  3. Third, the gains of the last two decades, like rights of women, cannot be lost.
  4. Fourth, the transit rights of Afghanistan should not be used by countries “to extract political price from Afghanistan”.

China’s Stand

  • China has called on foreign troops to leave Afghanistan in an orderly and responsible manner, give terrorist forces no breathing space and contribute to Afghanistan peace and reconciliation process.
  • China is concerned that the war-torn country Afghanistan, which shares borders with the volatile Xinjiang province of China, could become a breeding ground for Uighur Muslim militants.
  • USA’s withdrawal also coincides with its move to lift the ban on the Uighur militant group – the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).

Significance Afghanistan with respect to India

Afghanistan is a strategic investment for India, and India has made significant contributions to the rebuilding of the country.

Indian is engaged with Afghanistan by following ways:

  1. Developing social infrastructure as hospitals, schools;
  2. Public infrastructure such as Salma dam, and parliament building;
  3. Humanitarian assistance such as medical missions;
  4. Training of military officer and soldiers;
  5. Military warfare such as military helicopters and repairing the old soviet era helicopters.

Afghanistan is a gateway for The International North–South Transport Corridor (INSTC) for India.

  • India’s development of the Chabahar Port is of great strategic importance for the development of regional maritime transit traffic to Afghanistan and Central Asia
  • Afghanistan is also involved in The Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI) Project.
  • Afghanistan can help India to overcome/oppose China’s the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, or B&R), formerly known as One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative.
  • Afghanistan can help fulfil India’s Oil demands.

-Source: The Hindu

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