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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Before The Kabul Retreat
Described as the ‘Graveyard of Empires’, Afghanistan was always termed to be at peace when it was at war. But the land-locked desert country that was always in turmoil and one of the worst targets of the Great Game suffered immensely throughout, especially in the last 40 years, Masood Hussain writes
Almost everybody in academia and politics that Khalid Bashir Gura spoke to, the response over Kabul happens was simple – wait and watch
Parliamentary Committee In Srinagar
The visiting 28-member Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs have had detailed interactions with top civil administration and discussed developmental scenario and people’s welfare measures in Jammu and Kashmir. It is on a 4-day visit. Congress leader and MP Anand Sharma is heading the committee.
MUSIC IN MUD HOUSE
Deep into north Kashmir, Faheem Mir meet a small community that sings and lives on folk music but is facing a tense situation in the last few years
THE KABUL SPILLOVER?
Security experts are divided over the possible impact of the Kabul situation on Kashmir. But the dramatic Taliban triumph has altered the region’s geopolitics, for the time being, writes Riyaz Wani
Durga Bhawan At Katra
To enhancing facilities for the convenience of the Vaishno Devi pilgrims, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha laid the foundation for the Durga Bhawan, a high utility pilgrim-centric facility worth Rs 24.4 crore. The facility will accommodate 4000 pilgrims.
In the first, 480 talented girls from Jammu and Kashmir were included in the degree and diploma courses of the Pragati Scholarship. Jammu and Kashmir has also got nine scholarships under the Saksham Scheme for Persons with Disabilities.
‘SOME HISTORIANS BELIEVE THAT AFGHANISTAN CONFLICT IS THE OUTCOME OF INDIA AND PAKISTAN KASHMIR STAND-OFF'
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
Boredom Is Creative?
Getting bored is not as boring as it gets, writes Azra Hussain
LG In Bangus
Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha inaugurated the Bungus Awaam Mela amidst grand arrangements for village games, exhilarating local performances, and other activities to celebrate the 75th year of Independence.
Pakistan sees a victorious Taliban in Afghanistan to the west and a partner in China to the East. But the U.S. is at odds with both, pushing leader Imran Khan into a delicate balancing act.
America Can't Ignore Afghanistan
Exclusive: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan says the Taliban can be a partner for peace, not a terrorist threat - if the U.S. stays engaged.
Beyond Traditional and Modern
JYOTI BHATT is a celebrated and awarded artist, best known for his work in painting and printmaking, as well as his photographic accounts of rural Indian culture and folk art. He and his colleagues founded the “Baroda School” of Indian art. He was awarded the Padma Shri in 2019, and has been honoured with five Lifetime Achievement Awards. In August 2021 he had a conversation with ANANYA PATEL, musing about his life and his art. Excerpts from that conversation are presented in this 2-part series, along with some of his work.
THE GAME CHANGER
INSIDE DHD’S RECORD-SETTING DURAMAX
Building Community Through Education
KIRAN BIR SETHI is changing the experience of childhood in Indian cities through her education curriculum and initiatives to build healthy relationships between students and their communities. Here she is interviewed by KASHISH KALWANI.
Granny Chic Galore!
A homeowner’s holiday décor is an homage to Christmas at her grandma’s house.
Biden's Benghazi Moment
How the deadly Kabul AIRPORT ATTACK and bungled Afghanistan pullout could HAUNT HIS PRESIDENCY–and cost him the midterms.
Was ‘Chaos-istan' Inevitable?
How Biden's influence during the Obama administration had long-lasting effects
Fighting Terrorism from Afar
Can Joe Biden’s ‘over-the-horizon’ strategy in Afghanistan keep America safe? Defense experts are skeptical
FALL OF AFGHANISTAN!
Biden’s Vietnam fuels Taliban frenzy for new 9/11 attacks on America’s cities