New Delhi

Enemy’s Enemy

India’s foreign policy towards Taliban-led Afghanistan is a matter of great concern for Islamabad.

By Dr. Qasim Sodhar | July 2023

Before delving into the India’s inclination towards the current Taliban-led government in Afghanistan, let us have a brief look at the history. During the Cold War, the former Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States were trying to make alliances to strengthen and spread their global power.

Other than extending its power in the region, Soviet Union was also trying to extend its support to liberation and leftist movements internationally, e.g. the Chinese Communist Party, and the like. Likewise, the Cuban government, under the leadership of Fidel Castro, strengthened its relations with the USSR, while many Eastern European states also established the left governments with the help of the Soviet Union. Keeping up the momentum, Soviet forces also entered Afghanistan in 1979, which commonly is termed as the ‘Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan.’

However, the Soviet official narrative denies an ‘invasion’. During the early 1980s, the official Soviet media maintained that the Afghanistan Government had requested Soviet military assistance for humanitarian and non-combat tasks. In marked contrast, the critics believe that was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which ultimately led to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. According to an article by Rafael Reuveny and Aseem Prakash titled ‘The Afghanistan war and the breakdown of the Soviet Union’, published in the Review of International Studies, “The Afghanistan war accentuated the cleavages between the Russian republics and the Soviet state. It provided a common rallying banner for the secessionist movements and led to many anti-war demonstrations. In effect, it severely eroded the legitimacy of the Soviet system in the eyes of the non-Russian nationalities.”

It was not surprising for the world that the US, with the help of Pakistan, created Mujahideen to counter the Soviet Union and left Afghan people, after the withdrawal, at the mercy of the Taliban. Even the millions of Afghan migrants were not expatriated from Pakistan. Interestingly, the US needed Pakistan’s support after the 9/11 attacks. Now, once again America entered Afghanistan and remained there until its withdrawal in 2021, and this was surprising that in a very short span of time, the Taliban forces were able to capture Afghanistan. Since then, the situation has changed and till now most of the countries in the world are reluctant to recognize the Taliban regime, which has, time and again, given emphasis to their commitments with the international law, but to avail so far.

However, despite assurance from the Taliban government, the world is silently observing many mishaps happening in the war-torn Afghanistan. Against this backdrop, India had maintained cordial relations with the Ashraf Ghani regime. However, when the Taliban took over the country, it became a formidable challenge for India to continue its relationship with the Taliban regime.

It is interesting to note that despite terrorist attacks in different parts of India, still, the Indian authorities initiated their direct contact with the Taliban in 2013. India has been alleging Pakistan for every terrorist attack that happened in India. Since Pakistan shifted its policy towards the Taliban after 9/11, and later Abdul Ghani Baradar, the senior Taliban leader, was arrested by Pakistan in 2010, these developments further accelerated the mistrust between Taliban and the Pakistan authorities. In this connection, India issued a visa to a senior Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, for attending a conference in 2013.

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