‘SOME HISTORIANS BELIEVE THAT AFGHANISTAN CONFLICT IS THE OUTCOME OF INDIA AND PAKISTAN KASHMIR STAND-OFF'
Kashmir Life|August 22, 2021
Foreign policy expert and editor of HardNews magazine, Sanjay Kapoor believes that Taliban 2.0 has more legitimacy unlike in the past as it had signed a deal with the US and negotiated with other countries of the region, but the final verdict can be passed only after it manages ticklish issues involving half of its population, the women
Sanjay Kapoor

KASHMIR LIFE (KL): After months of reportage that the Taliban takeover would be chaotic and bloody, the actual change of guard was swift and bloodless. Was this entire reportage media’s manufactured narrative?

SANJAY KAPOOR (SK): India had few freelance reporters, but there was no journalist from mainstream media. The bulk of the reportage was coming from agencies that recycled perspectives from think tanks that were palmed off as exclusives. Due to the absence of good reporting, the world proved to be so wrong on Afghanistan. The local people were not so wrong. I have an Afghan friend who kept cautioning me by saying – ‘as soon as the US army goes, the entire country will fall to the Taliban’. This happened at great speed. He was right and we in the media were wrong.

KL: What could be the impact of the change of guard in Kabul on Delhi-Kabul relations?

SK: If one goes by the ties between India and Afghanistan when Taliban 1.0 was ruling Kabul, then the impact of the change in Kabul would be really bad. It would also suggest that India would be an active sponsor of resistance against them. But Taliban 2.0 is different. It enjoys more legitimacy than its previous avatar. It signed a deal with the US in Doha, Qatar, in February 2020. We do not know the content of the deal, but surely it suggests that the US army will leave Afghanistan soon. We do not know how soon it was to be, but by the speed at which US troops flew out of Bagram airport in July 2021, it is clear that the deal had meant it to be real quick Even US President Joe Biden admitted that he had to stick to the agreement that the US, a sovereign power, had signed under his predecessor, Donald Trump, with the Taliban. India was kept out of the loop when it came to the deal with the Taliban as it expressed reservations about them countenancing them as terrorists responsible for much of the violence in that country and elsewhere.

In 2018, India did send two ex-officials to attend Moscow Conference in which the Taliban were invited, but they did not really interact with them. Since then there have been rumours that we have been in touch with them, in Doha and elsewhere. Many of their emissaries were floating around in Delhi lobbying that India should talk with the Taliban.

New Delhi was told that the Taliban should give them an opportunity to normalise ties as many of them have a close relationship with India. Families of Taliban live in Delhi and some of them have had education and training in India. Taliban leader Stanikzai was trained in Dehradun’s Indian Military Academy. What was also conveyed discretely was that they would like to distance themselves from Pakistan’s excessive control and would need India’s help for that. India has heard all these assurances in the past but does not trust them. New Delhi is extremely circumspect as it fears that the Taliban would not change its stripes.

Hawks in New Delhi’s strategic community fear that the Taliban after winning Afghanistan would turn its attention to Kashmir. Many of the mercenaries that helped them from Chechnya and Xinjiang would use their ire on Kashmir where they will be helped by militant organisations like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Muhammad that had been armed, trained and outfitted by the Pakistan army to carry on their violent Jehad against the Indian forces in Kashmir.

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