The US has high-tailed it out of Afghanistan. A pithy, darkly humourous, speculation of what will happen next in America in the wake of its military humiliation by a ragtag Taliban force, was provided by the mountaineer, Joydeep Sircar, who corresponds with me fairly regularly. “By the end of 2021”, he confidently prophecies, “Hollywood will produce multiple movies showing how heroically the Americans fought and defeated the Taliban as a first step towards airbrushing history. By 2025 a large portion of the American public will believe the USA won in Afghanistan. American military thinkers will produce scholarly works showing Afghanistan was a victory because the USA took 20 years to run away whereas the USSR took only 7, and managed a higher Taliban body count. [Indian army officers] deputed to the US War College will come back full of dollars, and praise the US skill in seizing defeat out of the jaws of stalemate.”!!! He could have added by way of a last line that a bored US will then scout the map to see where it can intervene next to change a regime or build a nation.
The Afghan National Army (ANA) the Americans funded and sustained over 20 years simply melted into the countryside, or the urban chaos, Taliban having done an exemplary job of signalling to those wearing military and police uniform that unless they abandoned their posts and all ideas of fighting, when caught they’d be shot like dogs, or hung from the nearest rafter. But how and why did this happen and with such suddenness and finality? Mohan Guruswamy has come up with some revealing statistics that point to the problem. Over the last 20-odd years the US and the West annually poured into Afghanistan grant-in aid worth $60-$70 Billion. The Ashraf Ghani dispensation (and before him Hamid Karzai’s) yearly spent about $11 Billion. The revenue it generated totaled $3 Billion. Simple Math suggests that this left roughly $68-$78 Billion as “loose change” for Hamid Karzai (2001-2014) and Ashraf Ghani (2014-2021) to play around with. This was the scale of corruption — a readily accessible and replenishible trough of hard currency every minister and senior official and military officer liberally helped himself to. It sapped, in the process, the fighting spirit of the army and the police and hollowed out the government. Signs of this were available with the ANA desertion rate of some 9% before Biden’s announcement of full military pullout rising to some 26% after it. The Taliban needed to merely tip over the shell of the Ashraf Ghani regime and of the ANA.
With the Taliban in Kabul and a warning from Washington to not in any way hinder the evecuation of American citizens, the only activity being witnessed is at the Kabul airport where masses of people are seeking desperately to get the hell out, some — as seen in video clips — even clinging to the tyres in the landing systems of giant C-17 transport planes as they took off, being shaken loose as the aircraft gained altitude, and plunging to their death.
This time around though the armed Taliban motorized units in Kabul seem more disciplined, and are doing things differently. They haven’t as yet dynamited the new India-funded and built Parliament building, for instance, as they did the Bamiyan Buddhas during their first stint in power, 1996-2001, under the one-eyed Mullah Omar. In fact, the official directive to the residents of Kabul is to carry on with their lives as usual but to respect the prohibitions on women. Whence, large bill-boards featuring women models selling this or that have been blackened. And the Taliban field commanders holding court in the presidential palace, pending the imminent presence of their leaders, are posing in the grand hall, not tearing it up.
The new Talibani emirate in the offing will be run by a trio. There is Habaibullah Akhundzada who is emerging as the spiritual head, Mullah Abdul Ghani Barader the founder, along with Mullah Omar, of the Taliban, heading the negotiations with the interlocuters from various countries, including India, in Doha, and the likely future Emir, and the man in-charge of military operations and controlling the fighting cadres — Mullah Omar’s son, Mullah Yaqoob. It will be interesting to see how the tensions between the stalwart, Barader, and the scion, Yaqoob, get worked out, or don’t and with what results, once the regime starts functioning.
But how do developments affect the neighbouring states and how are they preparing to handle their prospective relations with a Taliban government?
Of all the proximal countries, Pakistan is at once in the most advantageous position and, danger-wise, the most exposed. It has earned leverage with the Taliban owing to hosting and housing the leaders and their families in Quetta and in Peshawar for two decades after they were run out of Kabul by George W Bush’s regime-changing intervention post-26/11 attack on New York in 2001. Both these cities now boast tribal shuras presided over by these leaders comprising Afghans, who to- and fro- and longtime refugees from camps dotting the Pakistani side of the Durand Line in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province (KPP) that notionally separates the two countries.
The problem for Pakistan that I alluded to in a previous post on this subject is this, the refugee Taliban element along with the Haqqani Network led by Sirajuddin Haqqani dominating the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) in northwestern Pakistan is only tenuously under Barader-Yaqoob’s control. Their ambition could drive them to want their own fief and to fight for an independent Pakhtunistan incorporating the southern Afghanistan belt and KPP. So, even though Taliban Central may feel beholden to ISI, the Taliban in Pakistan who form the bulk of the Tehreeq-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have no such loyalty, and have, in fact, waged a war for many years against the Pakistani state. More recently, some of the TTP foot soldiers have gone across the Durand Line to assist the Taliban mainforce take Kabul, which they didn’t expect to be the child’s play it turned out to be. So, one can readily see how grave a threat TTP poses to Pakistan. The issue for ISI is whether Islamabad can cash in on Taliban gratitude and get it translated into a pacified TTP on the ground.
For China the Taliban takeover is a double-edged sword. They have the monies to simply bribe the Taliban into complying with their objectives. These are to (1) keep Islamic extremists — al-Qaeda and Islamic State (Da’esh), in the main, nesting in Afghanistan, from staging armed infiltrations into the Muslim Uyghur province of Xinjiang through the strategic Wakhan Corridor and stirring up that pot — a prospect Beijing is paranoid about, and (2) facilitate the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) of which CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) is flagship venture, and other rail-road, and oil-pipeline connectivity projects in Central Asia. China will also offer its trademark infrastructure buildup programme and as a financial fallback option for the Taliban who in government will be strapped for cash because of two things. Firstly, Afghanistan government’s financial holdings (some $9.4 Billion) are held in US treasury bonds, etc., and the Biden Administration has announced Talibani Kabul will not be allowed access it. And, secondly, Taliban generates most of its independent revenues — which helped it finance its war — from growing poppy and converting it into heroin for mostly the US and West European markets, and amounts to a whopping $8-$10 Billion annually. Should Washington also further constrict this latter illicit trade with more world-wide policing, Taliban will be in trouble. This is the reason why the Taliban have been fairly well behaved to-date. But China would not care to have this drug trade directed to its mainland, and will be just as apprehensive of that possibilty. Beijing will, of course, be happy to fork over oodles of monies as also millions of dollars worth military hardware of all kinds, to prevent this from happening. But for all these considerations Beijing, as is its wont when dealing with Third World states it wants to have transition into clients, will extract a steep price. In Afghanistan’s case, it is its extraordinary natural resources and mineral wealth. Soon we will be hearing about Kabul approving generous concessions to Chinese companies to tap into Afghanistan’s oil and natural gas reserves, and to mine coal, iron ore, gold, copper, lead, and zinc.
Does China ever not come out on top?
Russia’s concerns are different. It wants to minimize the role of the US and the West in Afghanistan and Central Asia at-large. Indeed, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has asked the Chinese government to coordinate its Afghanistan-related policies with Russia, and together to build up an anti-US front in Eurasia, which goal President Xi Jinping will be extremely enthused by. At the same time, though Moscow will strive to keep the Central Asian ‘stans from being tempted by Beijing’s economic promises and gravitating militarily towards China. It wants a return of the Soviet-era sphere of influence in Central Asia and Afghanistan is a key player for some of the same reasons that China perceives it — it does not want the Islam of al-Qaeda and Da’esh to spread to Central Asia or to its own smaller provinces around the Caspian Sea.
India has a few things going for it that other countries don’t. Barader and his leadership team in Doha have let it be known publicly that the Taliban appreciate the good development work India has done and the projects it has invested in in their country and, short of interfering militarily in Afghanistan’s internal affairs — something he warned Delhi against doing, have no interest whatsoever in diverting excess fighting manpower from their country to Kashmir or any such external cause. The Afghan cultural goodwill for India, moreover, transcends the Taliban-nonTaliban divide. Everybody there loves Bollywood films and cricket (especially after the success of several local boys in IPL). So much so that it was said during the Soviet occupation period that the Russians found an easy way to round up the Taliban in the cities and towns: Raid cinema theatres mid-show of Bollywood blockbusters where the bearded AK47-toting cadres, otherwise of severe mien, would be found dancing in the aisles and singing along in the song sequences! How strategists underestimate the power of Bollywood naach-gaana!
The trouble for India is not from the Taliban or the TTP. But from the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) fighters who too went north to help the Taliban establish the emirate and, having done their bit, will now feel free with ISI encouragement to turn their attention to Jammu & Kashmir. Taking on these war-seasoned LeT and JeM fighters will not additionally tax the Indian army, which has become expert in tackling them. Rather the core problem for India is how to preempt China from putting down strong roots in Afghanistan?
Offering more development aid and infrastructure assistance and generally building on Afghan goodwill is one way. But how can Delhi ensure China does not corner all the Mining concessions in Afghanistan and, by other means, enhance its strategic presence in that country? There’s only one way — and I’ll stress this: IMMEDIATELY RECOGNIZE THE TALIBAN GOVERNMENT IN KABUL before eveyone else does. The first-mover advantage will impress Barader and Co. no end and incline them, pari passu, to give weightage to Indian proposals in contestation with China in economically developing that country, once we also offer military goods at “friendship prices” and our diplomats emphasize and keep propagandizing China’s inhumane treatment of Uyghur Muslims.
Such formal recognition will require a 180 degree turnaround from the position the Modi government has so far adopted — more, it seems, to please the Biden White House than to serve India’s national interest, of not recognizing the Taliban government owing to its bad human rights record and its plonking for a manifestly undemocratic system — which’s in line with the US policy. I am not sure how it helps India’s cause for its government to be a thekedar (guardian) of democracy in the region.
A former ISI chief, retired Pakistan army Lieutenant General Assad Durrani has, perhaps, mischievously suggested that India buy the Taliban government’s compliance on various issues, pointing out that even the US military that was supposedly fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan paid them $150 million annually to enable smooth passage of American truck convoys carrying supplies sustaining the American military operations in Afghanistan. Such payouts are actually a reasonable and realistic way around such Talibani intransigence as might be encountered!
you are correct Sir,barbaric taliban wants to bring pure islamic state but it is not india’s responsibility to remove them from power if they are not troubling india.taliban can be removed only if large majority of afghans rebel against this islamic barbarians.india should deal with any govt whether it is dictatorship/military/democracy/communist/king/barbarians like taliban etc keeping national interest in mind.it is the responsibility of the citizens of any country to change the regimes whatever form it is.
Here’s some commentary from a war correspondent journalist:
Pakistan’s role in supporting the Taliban insurgency is well known, and the US still turns a blind eye to it all.
She says that Pakistan is the only country in that region which matters.
No mention about India. The Yankees know how spineless Indian government is (Congress, BJP, Third front) doesn’t matter.
Furthermore, Indian bureaucracy at the highest level is completely compromised by the Americans.
Professor Karnad, has rightly mentioned on many occasions that how the carrot of Green Cards, US universities scholarships, H-1B visas etc. make Indian Babus reveal everything to their American masters and do the Yankees’ bidding.
India has no border with Afghanistan, and is thus largely helpless and dependent upon the goodwill of others.
China-Afghanistan border is only about 76 Kms. In worst case scenario for China, it won’t be difficult for them to fortify it with armed troops and drone surveillance.
Chinese authorities have cracked down very hard on Xinjiang rebels. The movement is practically dead within China.
Dissidents from the region settled abroad can keep raising up the issue but it won’t alter the status quo/ground reality.
Indian government has withdrawn all their embassy staff from Afghanistan therefore, I don’t think that anyone in the establishment will take Professor Karnad’s suggestions seriously.
China, Pakistan, Iran and Russia all have practically recognized the new Taliban regime. Now it doesn’t matter to Taliban leadership, if any other nation recognize them or not.
Not quite true. These four are outlier states, and China the most powerful amongst them needs the US market and collaterally the other markets in Europe and Asia that take their cue from Washington and Wall Street. So, take away China and ….
‘Take away China’ is it possible and that too by the Indian establishment.
Surely Professor Karnad, I would say that it’s the height of optimism.
So far the Taliban has kept its word on not promoting violence or celebrating its victory through revenge attacks on Afghans who opposed it. Though how long this will last will be a big question India and others will be asking. The dilemma India has is whether it should recognise the Taliban immediately without first confirming how it behaves or do as you say, but then take flak if the Taliban becomes extremist like before and engage in brutality. China on the other hand does not care for such things and can brush these things aside. India will face significant international blow back for doing the same (as well as internal dissensions).
Additionally, India does not have the financial leverage that China or the US have to influence the Taliban. But India has already stated that it’s interests in Afghanistan diverge from the US. So maybe as long the Taliban is behaving India should recognise them to earn their goodwill, and course correct later by supporting anti Taliban factions if the Taliban misbehaves. India risks its relations with the West though by doing this, as well as current potential pro India factions in Afghanistan, who might view it as unreliable/flip floppy.
My take on what India might do – it will wait and watch how the Taliban behaves. Then decide one way or the other.
By email from Lt Gen Kamal Davar, founder-Director General, Defence Intelligence Agency
Tue, 17 Aug at 6:17 pm
Hi Bharat—– thanks for sharing, as always, your candid comments on a crisis which is going to gravely affect us and the region in more ways than one . Your views do need serious and speedy consideration. Warmly,
Prof Karnad, India should be cautious about giving the benefit of formal recognition to Taliban early on, and should instead first engage in behind-the-scenes dialogue with Taliban.
Recognition must be based on particular guarantees, such as mutual respect and refraining from terrorism. What about jihadi militants on Afghan soil? Will Taliban take responsibility for any jihadis on their soil who want to wage war against India? What about welfare of Sikhs & Hindus in Afghanistan? Will they be forced to wear yellow scarves and yellow clothing like in 1990s, similar to Jews being forced to wear yellow stars by the Nazis? Will there be respect for women’s rights? Will India be able to maintain an embassy on Afghan soil and allowed safety for its personnel?
resistance to taliban may come in future by other major ethnic groups like tajiks,uzbeks,hazaras,turkmen and other minor ethnic groups if highly pashtun dominated taliban ignores these groups in power sharing.but india cant wait for things to happen but rather quickly engage with who ever is in power to reduce gains for pak china as india does not have the capability to change taliban regime even if it wishes to do so.
Another point to note is the contingency preparations India is making in J&K. It seems to have decided that building helipads and airfields in remote J&K locations is the fastest way to counter Chinese infrastructure gaps. Additionally, India is heavily investing in drones. So if there is blow back from LeT and JeM due to their overconfidence about what happened in Afghanistan, there will be drone strikes by India, which could escalate into an invasion of Gilgit-Baltistan and a blocking of the CPEC. India certainly seems to be preparing for this outcome.
No matter how much we try to befriend the Taliban, Pakistan will have a veto on Afghanistan’s relations with India.
That is the one thing Pakistan will demand for all the support they gave for the past 2 decades. And Taliban will prefer the Chinese diplomatic and monetary support which is again contingent on the good graces of Pakistan. Taliban may not listen to Pakistan on any other issue but India will be a line they will not cross.
We don’t know how things will pan out in Afghanistan in the next couple of years. Let’s hope there is internal resistance to Taliban rule which will provide us with some form of leverage. Don’t abandon old Northern alliance friends in the hope of making new friends. In the end, we will be left with none.
Pakistan can easily assassinate/eliminate any Taliban who deviate too far away from Islamabad’s agenda or challenge its interests.
They risk alienating Taliban and enraging a sizeable portion of their own population by doing this.
SanMann@ — Don’t know about that because the TTP has run the the Pakistan army ragged.
Prof Karnad, TTP are certainly against Pakistan, but TTP do not run Taliban as a whole. In fact it’s hard to say that any of the Pashtuns runs Taliban as a whole, since Pashtuns continue to be a bunch of disparate tribes. In the context of this war, they only came together to make common cause against the Afghan govt, but other than that, they don’t have enough in common politically. That’s the whole reason why Pakistan sought to instill them with a sense of common purpose through radical Wahabbism in the first place. And you may of course remember the sudden & strange appearance of Mullah Omar after the Taliban enterprise was well under way, proclaiming to be the true spiritual leader of Taliban. That, along with supplying huge numbers of Pak-indoctrinated madrassa students and Pak army troops embedded among them, was the only way to keep Taliban focused on Pak goals.
Amit, Taliban rank and file are simple rural youth only concerned with being more Islamic, and there is plenty of room for power struggle between aspiring Taliban leaders. There are already different names going under the Taliban banner who are each claiming to be the leader of Taliban. Watch as the power struggle ensues, and we’ll likely see assassinations under the pretext of feuds, since Pakistan doesn’t carry out its assassinations in the open.
San Mann@ — Most of your points covered in my July 27 post — “Use the Afghanistan mess to mess with China in East Turkestan”.
By email from Lt Gen JS Bajwa (Retd)
Tue, 17 Aug at 6:46 pm
Really?? Is there a need to be in such a tearing hurry??
It will not appease them into not interfering in Kashmir if that’s on their agenda.
Thinking further you have a new category of “Kafirs” in the Talibani mind. Good Kafirs and Bad Kafirs!!!
Prof Karnad, Biden is a Dhritarashtra and Kamala is his Gandhari. It’s the Biden admin which has singlehandedly created a massive blunder in handing over Afghanistan to the Taliban in one fell swoop, totally contrary to their promises that they’d have an allied regime in place in Kabul to continue prosecuting the war against Taliban. The reality is that they pulled the rug out from under their allies. This is the same Biden admin which wants to now undermine India by appointing special envoys on human rights to lecture us.
We should record every single execution, revenge attack, kidnapping of girls, medieval punishment, etc, and should ensure that each and every instance is broadcasted on as many media outlets as possible to rub the Biden govt’s face in their own results. We should really hold up the mirror and show it to them. We should get appearances on Fox News for Afghan family members and journalists..
Sir, I look forward to your assessment of the future strategic perspective of India in safeguarding Kashmir following this cataclysmic event in an article in IDR, if you may oblige us to comprehend. I fully agree with your grave concerns in this context and I think the future looks grim for India in the whirlwind of international power play. Hopefully, Modiji is not naive to swallow the political spin of the barbarian Taliban that they do not mean any harm to India. Surely, they will lie low for some time now to consolidate their gain in the diplomatic world. But once that is achieved, their true color will go on display. I believe the adage that a leopard can never change its spots. One leader of their pack is now the dreaded Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who every few months used to warn India to get out of Kashmir or else, when he was under the wing of bin Laden carrying out jihad against the Soviets. As a former Indian ambassador has observed, it is the invasion of Afghanistan by Pakistan with the Afghan face mask. Pak has now recovered its strategic depth vis-a-vis India that they lost in 1971. Once again, I look forward to your strategic analysis.
By email from Joydeep Sircar
Tue, 17 Aug at 7:31 pm
The trouble with your eminently practical solution is that our US fawning govt. will not have the cojones to take such a bold step. The stick insect Jaishankar will waltz around with Blinken and the early mover opportunity will be lost.
The Utterly Stupid Americans, instead of being livid with Pakistan, will now fall for the ISI / Chinese bait of influencing the Taliban to keep Russia and China out of Afg. That ‘strategic victory’ over Russia will keep the US from interfering with the heroin flowing out and the dollars flowing in. The coprophagous Democrats will forget the Taliban in a week or two and once again go after their favourite whipping boy, lndia.
I don’t agree with premature “early mover” mentality here — some caution is required. India should engage in behind-the-scenes talks with Taliban. We should be seeking quid pro quo of mutual respect and non-interference in internal affairs, including on Kashmir and terrorism. We should not grant the carrot of formal recognition until and unless certain criteria are met. What about treatment of Sikh & Hindu minorities, and what about treatment of women?
Sorry to say but about 20 years too late for the suggestion. Your suggestion may have been of some practical use, if dangled sometime after the Airlift of Evil. Vajpayee had no business to have tied India’s fate in Afghanistan with an Anti-Taliban stance. Indian fate in these lands was pretty much sealed after Kunduz Airlift which was an accurate harbinger to the American capitulation. Whatever little we could have done thereafter required extremely deft handling and that was killed off by Modi’s moves against Iran to appease Trump.
Just get our people out and if possible take out the Afghan Hindus and Sikhs also and stay quite. The state has already damaged all future hopes for our presence in the Central Asia. Staying quite is also a response and this case it is an apt one.
The Northern Alliance is being built around Amrullah Saleh as caretaker President.
Since the US has left with no love from the Afghans, doesn’t it make more sense for us to take the vacuum of the NA as primary backer rather than hope for 2nd fiddle behind China, Pak, or Russia for taliban?
Nothing stops India from doing both with the former used to lever more accommodation fromTaliban emirate.
One may need to see if the northern warlords will be able to pose a substantial resistance. There is also the case of Taliban which is currently posing a moderate face to international media, being able to accomodate various groups and also aspirations of young urban Afghans. Clearly Dostum, Noor, Masood/Saleh and Ismail Khan(as of now) are not willing to reconcile with Taliban. If Taliban do get a broad based support it will pave way for India to recognise which ever government takes shape in Afghanistan.
But the elephant in the room is Pakistan. When Pakistan successfully managed to keep India out of all negotiations in the past even when northern warlords kept urging India to participate, why do you think India has any hope of any substantial future involvement in Afghanistan with a Taliban occupation firmly in place?
Primeargument@ — Firstly, the Northern Alliance survives in embryo, and India could ramp up support for it should Taliban promises prove false, and India’s recognition of the Talibani Emirate of Afghanistan not fetch adequate returns in terms of mining concessions, tamping down on any Kashmir-related activity, etc. Secondly, the Taliban are no fools and, while grateful to Pakistan for the safe haven it provided them and their families, they are aware that they need to develop a counter-leverage against Islamabad, and India fills that role. This aspect is reflected in the Taliban spokesman saying 2-3 days ago categorically that they would be pleased if India carried on with its development projects and programmes in Afganistan.
Prof Karnad, lack of direct territorial contiguity with Afghanistan certainly stops India. We would be dependent upon Iran, who are nevertheless on the western flank of Afghanistan and not the eastern area where Panjshir is. Amrullah Saleh has no real constituency, and although the son of Masoud may carry some loyalty, Panjshir is just one pocket in the larger country, and can’t be expected to do much on its own.
Since Pakistan is inevitably expected to try and bring Taliban under its control, I think we need to find factions within Taliban who are opposed to this theft of their sovereignty and independence, to align with them.
India needs Taliban not vice versa.
The country should organize “Namastaey Taliban” grand show at the Modi Stadium in Gujarat.
Imagine the P.R when our “Vishvguru” hugs Talibani mullah leadership 🥳
How convenient of you to forget Congress Party mandarins like Digvijay Singh (“Osama Ji”). There is nothing pro-Islamist about Modi or BJP, but plenty to criticize in the greedy vote bank scavengers of the Congress & Left.
@ San Mann- Open Google type online English dictionary over there and find the meaning of the term ‘satire’
1. Sir Not just Hollywood films, but ‘pc/xbox’ games like “call of duty” that i play where US is the only saviour(based on US’s narrative). Waiting for another part of game may be launching in 2024 with US as saviour in Afg’n 😂
2. Sir should we not use TTP to oust china in Pakistan as TTP and BLA can go against Chinese developments
A sedition case has been filed against a Samajwadi Party MP and two others in Uttar Pradesh’s Sambhal district over alleged remarks that compare the Taliban to India’s freedom fighters.
“A case was registered late last night against Shafiqur Rahman Barq and two others for provocative comments about the Taliban.
The complainant said the Taliban was compared to Indian freedom fighters and their victory was celebrated,” Charkhesh Mishra, the Superintendent of Police in Chambhal district, said in a video statement released today.
“The Taliban is a terrorist organisation as per the Indian government and this (the alleged remarks) can be counted as sedition. We have filed a FIR (first information report),” he added.
Excerpts from the following;
So as per the Indian government, Taliban is a terrorist organization.
Whatever anyone may say, the capture of power by the Taliban in Afghanistan suits the BJP very well.
They will now stage false flag attacks near key elections and blame them on the Taliban furthermore, the Hindu hardliners will scare the Hindus by highlighting the fantasy that Muslims in India will collude with the Taliban to do “Gazwaa-aiyeyy-Hind” in India.
Indian establishment will pay a good amount of money secretly to the Taliban for the aforesaid model. They have good prior experience of dealing with the Taliban.
The present Indian NSA pioneered the concept of false flag operations in the country by arranging the Indian Airlines flight hijacking in the year 1999.
Sky’s the limit now. Birds of a feather flock together. Taliban are Muslim hardliners and their Indian counterparts RSS/BJP are Hindu conservatives.
Enjoy the forthcoming show.
Look, far too many incidents and events are unjustly attributed to NSA, Ajit Doval. The IA 814 hijacking, for instance, was not “false flag”. And it could have been stopped cold by simply parking a truck in front of that plane when it landed in Amritsar and waiting out the hijackers before approving an assault by Punjab Police commando who were at hand at the airport. Instead, Vajpayee’s NSA, the lamentable Brajesh Mishra, not only arranged for that aircraft to be refueled but, worse, to take off for Kandahar.
The very fact that the flight was allowed to leave Amritsar is proof enough of the whole episode being a staged one.
Not “staged”, just wrong decision by Brajesh Mishra.
And that brave BJP Rajput Jaswant Singh of army pedigree went to greet the hijackers with Darjeeling Tea in hand in Kandahar to receive the released hostages of the plane – isn’t it?
Was he your ‘friend’ also with whom you enjoyed a great afternoon? Was he the same ‘Major Gen’ Jaswant Singh under whose command the Indian Army lost the strategic Chamb to Pak in the 1971 war because he left big gaps in laying the mines for the defense of that sector, and dillydallied to strike back when the Pak heavy armor struck the Indian defenses? I remain to be corrected. Thank you.
The late Jaswant Singh, Ex-Central India Horse, resigned from service to enter politics in 1962-63.
Tyagi, anything that was staged in IA814 was done by anti-BJP forces, not pro-BJP ones.
Gaurav Tyagi@ — I agree rss is planning world domination with taliban and actually secretly running the world.They thought no will notice but you caught them red handed.Thanks for enlightening ignorant folks.
@John Doe- Haha nice humor man.
RSS definitely fantasize about running the world that’s why they coined a useless term like ‘Vishvguru’
In reality these folks cannot even manage their households. Some of them even run away from their homes after marriage.
Have to say John Doe, you got owned by Tyagi. Admit it.
‘Vishvguru’ indeed! Lol!
@San Mann- You say whatever you wish but I have done my research. Indian Airlines hijacking was definitely an inside job.
Congress as well as BJP are both equally corrupt. Doesn’t make any difference.
(1) Was there ever any possibility of India negotiating with the Americans to put foot soldiers on the ground for guard duties with the actual fighting being done by Afghans under American guidance/intel ? If it was so, then what could have been the factors that ultimately prevented that from happening ?
(2) If India decides to put a Blackwater (now Constellis) or Wagner type outfit inside Tajikistan and Panjshir, today then what do you see as the constraints in seeing this happen ?
(3) And what could be the quid pro quo & due to whom, for the following that got reported on Updated At: Aug 18, 2021 05:47 AM (IST)
~@# –(1) Yes, this idea was broached; but good sense prevailed; (2) Haven’t heard of this option; assuming it is on, it will work only if that old Panjsher faction of the late Ahmed Shah Massoud firms up under his son Ahmad Massoud and Amrullah Salleh, and: (3) Delhi has always had old links with certain sections of the Taliban, so the unmolested evavcuation of embassy staff was not difficult to arrange. It is a pity though that the decision was taken to pull out the ambassador, even though his counterparts from China and Russia are staying on indicating confidence in a prospective Taliban regime. Wrong action by Delhi, sending the wrong message to Barader & Co.
Was it good sense that prevailed or was it something else that prevailed over our senses…I thought we were ‘told’ not to put boots on the ground
Whatsinitanyway@ — “told” by whom?
~@# mentioned negotiating with Americans so yes Americans.
The neighbouring countries of Afghanistan has sealed their borders . Now think of an unpartitioned India and its vulnerabilities.
A few comments from the readers of the aforesaid;
Jai can’t you get the Taliban over in India for some Hugplomacy and Jhoolaplomacy ? Worked great with Namaste Trump and Xi Jinping . Try it .
He is a business consultant not diplomat so dont expect anything from him or his govt. They will just keep watching and finally tell that even this was Congress and Nehru mistake
He is modi ka taataa…what can you expect from him…he has no spine of his own
Modi will hug his elder brothers of Taliban’s.
Bcos today they both look same. Long beards, turbans…😂😂😂
This man is as clueless about foreign policy as our esteemed Finance minister about economy
from last few days every indian media is focusing only on how barbaric talibanis are and how biden admin ditched afgans for TRP, only focusing on human rights,civil liberties etc without any strategic discussion on how to handle the reality of talibani regime which currently leans heavily towards pak,china against india.none of the so called experts are suggesting india to infiltrate at least into some of the factions of taliban,fund them to fight for independent pashtunistan out of pakistani pashtun area to destabilize pakistan.not sure what is the thought in indian intelligence agencies?
Sir,what you think modi govt will do?realistic approach to reduce pak,china gains or western approach of lecturing islamic barbarians on human rights,civil liberties,girls education etc which may turn taliban against india.
What I suggest in my post!
yes Sir you have mentioned “Such formal recognition will require a 180 degree turnaround from the position the Modi government has so far adopted”.what I am asking is about informal understanding behind closed doors whether india can cut any deal with taliban without officially recognizing taliban regime or it ll be repeat of taliban 1.0(1996-2001) where india’s influence in afghanistan was at the lowest and troublesome.
Deepak@ — Well, as I mentioned, many Taliban factions are outside the control of Barader, et al. The news about Taliban ransacking the Indian consulates in Kandahar and Herat is not a good sign. Sure, it was an informal understanding that allowed Indian aircraft to get back the embassy staff. Sure, such agreements are possible, but they are not lasting.
Here’s a thought that can stir up a hornet’s nest! US congressman proposing troops in India to handle the Taliban…if he’s discussing this publicly, I’m sure it has been discussed seriously already…
Another wonderful work by Mr Karnad.
My observations on the Indian options are following :
1. I do not see India recognizing Afghanistan for the next six months since Taliban could be another factor that could be utilized to further the ruling party’s poll campaign in UP. Ram Madhav’s recent comments point to that perspective. At this point, Mr Modi’s main focus is on UP elections and Afghanistan as a factor will be played to further that objective.
2. China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and Turkey will probably be looking to recognize Taliban before that.
3. India may even be looking to complicate matters with the Taliban further by supporting the Panjshir based Amrullah Saleh-led rump state.
4. At present, Taliban would be looking to strengthen its ties with China for economic matters. That means it may be forced to hand over some ETIM guys who are currently based out of Badakhshan province bordering China.
5. I think that means it will be difficult for India to use Taliban against China(or Pakistan) for that matter using ETIM or TPP.
” …Pakistan is at once in the most advantageous position …. has earned leverage with the Taliban owing to hosting and housing the leaders…”-
Could you tell us explicitly who other has leverage with TalibanI since I do not understand this? I recall it was Pakistan’s ISI Chief Lt Gen Abdul Hamid Gul who created Taliban during the “jihad war” against the past Soviet Union in Afghanistan. And ISI operates (controls) Taliban as its proxy ever since to my knowledge – or who else, it is ISI who supplies them weapons and other resources for sustaining them.
” … Taliban generates most of its independent revenues — which helped it finance its war” –
Well, to carry out war it is more than “finance” that is needed – the weapons such as rocket launchers. Who could be the supplier other than Pak’s ISI?
” Taliban will be in trouble. This is the reason why the Taliban have been fairly well behaved to-date” – This stands in contrast to western analysts who have put the Taliban in its place as “Muslim Pol Pot.”
Sankar@ — 1) Depending on the factions of the Taliban, other than Pakistan, the US has indirect influence, and so do India, Russia and China.
2) Hamid Gul headed ISI only in 1987-89. The man who shaped, fleshed out and ran the Taliban with CIA help and sprang the ‘bear trap’ on the Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan was the previous DG, ISI, (1979-1987) Lt Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman who, other than fellow Araini from Jullundar, General Khalid Mahmud Arif, the de facto COAS, was considered closest to General Zia ul-Haq, the Chief Martial Law Aadministrator.
3) Pakistani channels all mil equipment to the Taliban from its own stores, which are replenished peiodically by US and China/
4) What Pol Pot-ish scale of atrocity have the Taliban committed to date, pray?
The Taliban came about in 1994 in the districts of Kandahar and Helmand. I believe it was Mr Farhatullah Babar, the home minister from the then Benazir Bhutto government , who did commence the task of creating the Taliban. So neither Lt Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman nor Gen Hamid Gul had much to do with the formation of the Taliban since they did retire much before that.
I hope this answers all of your queries.
Look, the Taliban nucleus were the Akhtar ISI-CIA created Mujahideen who took out the Soviets in the 1980s.
” What Pol Pot-ish scale of atrocity have the Taliban committed to date, pray?” –
Here is just one clip from Taliban’s records –
Yes, there have been some atrocities. But Pol-potish — “a mountain of skulls”? No.
An excerpt from the above;
After completing his school education in Iran, he had studied a military course in Sandhurst, the British Army’s military academy for officers. He later went on to graduate from King’s College in London with a bachelor’s degree in War Studies in 2015. This was followed by a Master’s in International Politics from City, the University of London in 2016.
This so called ‘son of lion’ is a Western backed puppet.
The U.S wanted Ashraf Ghani out of power. This is a long term plan of the Yankees to initiate a long drawn civil war in Afghanistan.
USA will sell weapons to both factions and mint money. Their old/trusted global business model.
“This so called ‘son of lion’ is a Western backed puppet.” –
It is unlikely to be so. It is an ominous sign that the Russian high-level diplomat Lavrov has very recently hinted at brewing resistance by the erstwhile Northern Alliance in Panjshir Valley. The political climate is turbulent right at the moment and impossible to see the final outcome.
It remains to be seen how soon Russia will ‘recognize’ Taliban diplomatically as the legitimate stakeholder of Afghanistan and under what caveat. Here is a backdrop of not so long ago (July 2021):
“Moscow does indeed seem to take the Taliban threat very seriously. In 2017, Russia supplied small arms, artillery guns, armor, helicopters, communications, air defense systems, medical and topographic map-making equipment to Tajikistan and followed up in 2019 with US$9 million worth of air defense systems. …”
Lt Gen Akhtar Abdur Rahman khan (alike Gen Hamid Gul) were ethnic Pashtuns and not Arains. In fact both belonged to blue-blood Pashtun families alike the current PM Imran Khan.
In fact a very interesting sub-plot from the current Afghanistan Pakistan scene is the high level of Pashtuns present in the Pakistani administrative set up (both in the civilian administration and the Military) which presents a picture in complete contrast to that of Afghanistan whose Army/political administration (till the Taliban came week back) used to be dominated by Taziqs and Uzbeks. Even the famous Amrullah Saleh is an ethnic Taziq and not a Pashtun. Ashraf Ghani may be a Pashtun but he is someone who had spent his entire life more or less outside Afghanistan.
So the current Pakistan government/military has more Pashtuns in it than Afghanistan.
That means if a Pakhtunistan needs to be created, then it would be better to join Afghanistan’s Pashtun dominated provinces to be made part of Pakistan considering the higher level of Pashtuns in Pakistani society as well as in it’s civilian/military administration.
What are your views on this Mr Karnad ?
Banerjee@ — That’s what I said in my July 27 post. Look it up.
Dear Mr Karnad,
While i respect your philosophy of realpolitik i see some gaping holes in your analysis. Based on your writings i conclude that your basic idea is to accommodate Pakistan and Afghanistan and take on China. The problem with this analysis is that this is easier said than done. India right from 1947 has had prime minister’s trying to accommodate Pakistan. I can’t find a better word for the policies from PM Nehru to PM Vajpayee to PM singh other than accommodation. Pakistan could have been militarily destroyed well before they got their nuclear weapons but the accommodative stance by the respective PM’s has brought us to this point. Even PM Modi started of with an accommodation attempt but soon realized the futility of that approach.
You seem to want to pre-empt china and prevent China from establishing roots in Afghanistan but the geopolitics of the region and the stability is not going to make it easy for China to exploit the mineral resources and despite Taliban’s overall control and the US and India’s strategic interest is going to keep that area perpetually unstable and a state of civil war will continue. In the mean time it is still not clear if Taliban will sacrifice their links with anti-India terrorist groups. The possibility and likelihood is very less. By your own admission Taliban is going to milk China with it’s ETIM card and it’s highly unlikely that China sees Afghanistan as a place to invest as long as the instability reins. The classic example is the China’s CPEC corridor where an occasional terrorist act is good enough to put a complete halt on it and going forward with all kinds of players playing their hand in Afghanistan it’s never going to be easy for China to build strategic heft inside Afghanistan.
The gains for India are very limited and unclear if we officially recognize Taliban. I think it’s perfectly sane to establish a working relationship with Taliban to secure our interests but to recognize Taliban as de-facto power in Afghanistan and severing our relationships with other powers doesn’t bring in the required value. It’s still early days and we still don’t know how the resistance to Taliban is going to shape up and how TTP and other terror organizations going to behave. So i think your idea of recognizing Taliban is hasty.
In addition our policy towards Pakistan has been ‘Long stick and short stick’ strategy where we wield a long stick if they don’t behave and a short stick if they behave. I think we managed a decent returns from this strategy with cross border terrorism and all time 2 decade low. India as per it’s plan will keep up military , diplomatic and strategic pressure making it complicated for Pakistan to produce terrorism against India. I think we should wait establish working relationship with all factions, Fund the factions that are most inclined towards India and let Afghans determine their future course of action and correct our course as the situation demands. Let us be the last to recognize any Islamic regime in Afghanistan. This is not about winning the heart of Baradar. Taliban is just one of the players and we have time, let us not be overwhelmed by the recent developments.
Ravi@ — By India’s “long stick, short stick” policy you, perhaps, mean a “carrot and stick” policy. The trouble from Nehru’s days: There’s been more stick than carrot (in substantive terms). Realpolitik, moreover, is holistic policy to inform every aspect of the country’s outlook and approach to inter-state affairs and the world.
By “Long stick,short stick” strategy i did not mean “Carrot and stick” , i only meant “Long stick , short stick” which meant harsher punishment for Pakistan’s adventures basically air strikes(which you yourself suggested) and if Pakistan is on the back foot and stops it’s activities we deploy only short stick which is persistent diplomatic onslaught but never a carrot until Pakistan is totally subjugated , the way Mexico is to U.S.
Because of the kind of state Pakistan is we can never expect Pakistan to act like a rational state which does an objective analysis of it’s resources and then pursue it’s objectives. Look at the losses Pakistan suffered in it’s fight against India, It lost half of it’s country, suffered enormous economic damage and turned it’s land into a terrorist hot bed suffering daily because of the terror culture and they did the most daring of actions like hiding OBL inside it’s territory and duped U.S. Pakistan as a political entity has shown unparalleled grit in sticking to it’s strategic objective. This zealousness of Pakistan is what you underestimate when you think you can accommodate Pakistan.
Only when Pakistan is turned into a Mexico can India be really relieved of it’s Pakistan problem. China is a threat and India has to produce a comprehensive strategic response to the threat China poses to India by playing Tibet/Taiwan/East Turkistan card or whatever in the list of actions you suggested in your books. I totally agree with you on this but if you believe that Pakistan can be tamed by giving them a settlement in Kashmir you are not going to get it(By the way we have always offered them to keep their side of Kashmir and they never settled with. Even BJP would have accepted that under A.B.Vajpayee. Now it’s a different story though, because BJP is not manned by romantics anymore). With Taliban’s recapture of Afghanistan Pakistan has got a shot in it’s arm. Whatever additional monies needed to be spent to counter China , India should spend. The idea of diluting India’s position on Pakistan is going no where. Pakistan will never let that happen until it’s on it’s Knees.
Nevertheless on the other argument that why we don’t have to fret about China getting hold in Afghanistan is because U.S is not going to let Taliban settle. Afghanistan is going to be the next Syria. If china were not able to do a lot of mining or mineral exploration in Afghanistan with reasonable security offered by the presence of U.S forces between 2001-2021 ,don’t think they are going to do now when the situation has only become worse. Even if China get’s to invest in Afghanistan it shall be a trap for China in Afghanistan the way China’s CPEC is trapped in Pakistan. The recent Dassau damn incident shows how easy it is to derail such grand plans.
I think India should pursue a policy of ‘Asymmetric military depletion of Pakistan’ . This means bombing their air defence. locking Pakistan air space if there is any terrorist attack in India , shooting down their drones in Pakistan’s air space if at all they manage to procure armed drones from China or Turkey and any other sort of military pressure on Pakistan that humiliates it’s Armed forces in the eyes of Pakistan’s people. India should pursue to deplete the Pakistan’s capability. This might provoke a pakistan’s retaliation but it will be as muted as Pakistan’s response after Balakot. India can impose itself very heavily on Pakistan’s Navy as well if it forces Pakistan to it’s waters. There is so much conventional Asymmetric military pressure India can apply that Pakistan should be convinced of the futility of it’s terror strategy.
As far as China is concerned India has to first focus on the Economic war. This is an opportune time for India to play itself up against China in the economic , diplomatic and strategic domains. India has to pitch itself against China and establish Freeworld’s supply chains convincing the entire freeworld to end it’s economic dependence on China. This idea has gained momentum lately and India has to pursue this strategy in a single minded manner and corner the benefit’s of this insecurity of the democratic countries vis-a-vis China. India has to up it’s game by establishing full diplomatic relationship with Taiwan and providing them with the most sophisticated Hypersonic missiles and other diplomatic assistance. Unless India positions itself as a serious rival to China we are unlikely to reap the full benefits of the position that China has pushed itself into.
Lastly let us not fret ourselves over Taliban. Let us take our time and let the situation evolve. If we think we have no option left but to recognize Taliban we can do that and Taliban will accept it anytime because it will like to use India as a card against China. India has it’s own usefulness for Taliban as and when it get’s it.
Ravi@ — Your solution is illustrative of the problem that the Indian govt and military and Indians, generally, don’t express and show the kind of belligerance you suggest towards Pakistan, for China. That’s the strategic deficit I have long harped on, and argued is central to India’s inconsequence in the world.
Professor Karnad, you are advocating Indian government to recognize Taliban government in Afghanistan.
This is what Indian establishment is busy with;
Anti terror law for a few posts/comments on social media. BJP regime is surely giving good competition to Taliban 🤪
Another interesting sub-plot of the surprise Taliban victory has been the frequency and the way that the bogey of Taliban has been utilized in states ruled by the ruling party. I will not be surprised at all if the issue of Taliban becomes the main issue in the UP elections which is just six months away. What do the readers in this group think about this possibility ? Will the BJP win UP by focusing on the bogey of the Taliban ?
Sir China will try to do lithium mining due to emerging massive electric vehicle market. Do u think India is going to exploit lithium resources. Then , Should we not use restore our good relations with Tehran which we screwed up due to importuning by US to get transportation access.
With the US now leaving Afghanistan, new possibilities arise on how the US will deal with Pakistan. The primary threat to the US will be terrorism emanating from the Af-Pak region. So it is very possible that the US turns on Pakistan and punishes it through the FATF or otherwise. I expect Indian and American interests to be more aligned with the US on this going forward. The bogey of using Pakistani territory for military logistics is not that critical now.
In terms of Pakistan, it will continue to develop its relations with China and Russia since both of them are opposed to the US. However, there is now a reciprocal interest by China in propping Pakistan since it is in a hybrid war with India – whatever the terror provocations in Pakistan over the CPEC, it will not abandon Pakistan. So the dual threat of China and Pakistan will increase against India.
However, with US and India more aligned on Pakistan than before, it is likely that there is collaboration with the US to break up Pakistan – not explicitly, but by putting relentless pressure on it. That weakens China, which is the prime threat to both the US and India, as well as reduces the risk of nuclear use by a rogue Pakistan. There is also the possibility of the Afghan Taliban putting pressure on Pakistan on the Durand line, and I would not put it beyond the pale of the Americans to collaborate with them on this, in return for allowing access to Afghanistan’s financial reserves. So it is possible that there is a tripartite pressure on Pakistan while there is a two front pressure on India from China and Pakistan.
In the meanwhile, I expect more pressure on China from the Quad in the Indo-Pacific, as long as China continues to behave belligerently.
In the meanwhile, Russian and Iranian interests exist in both camps…with China on BRI and investments, and with India on Chabahar and the North South corridor (apart from controlling terror in Af-Pak). So it is possible that Russia and Iran turn out to be more neutral with India, but the fact they are currently opposed to the US, makes it more complex for them. But who knows- maybe the US moves to repair these relationships – then China is in a tight spot. Otherwise, it’s a heady mix of geopolitical power plays.
I do not think that the US considers terrorism/Pakistan as principle threat particularly after getting out of Afghanistan. Apart from a once-in-a-million even like the 9/11, there were no threat to the US from either Afghanistan or Pakistan.
In fact the Taliban after 9/11 were ready to hand over Bin Laden to the US through Pakistan. It is only the Military-Industrial lobby in the US that instead opted for invasion and war. Had the US listened to Pakistan then the USA probably would have been able to save at least USD 2 trillion alongside the lives of plenty of people.
Even now Pakistan is asking the US to choose China over India however the US due to again the pressure from the Military-Industrial lobby has chosen India over China through India. I believe the US will again realize her folly in the coming 20-30 years which she is unable/unwilling to realize now.
I would love your views on my understanding of the situation.
Listening to all the analysts here in the US, I think the US is concerned with the threat of terror from Af-Pak hitting the US mainland – it would be a political disaster if that happened. However, it might be a medium-long term threat, and not immediate as the terror groups need some time to organize such attacks on the US. Plus US is also concerned with growing Chinese influence in the region – so my guess is that it will try proxy means to reduce Chinese influence.
The fact that the US is no longer in Afghanistan removes the one reason the US needed Pakistan – logistics support for its presence in Afghanistan. And there are plenty of bureaucrats/politicians who are fed up with Pakistani perfidy. Additionally, the risk of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands is something the US is deeply interested in tracking/managing. Moreover, Talibani and Pakistani interests are not all aligned. So the US can exploit this to weaken the terror network in Pakistan.
So while the war on terror has lower priority on the US agenda, and the focus is shifting to containing China/Indo Pacific, US exit from Afghanistan gives India an opportunity to align US policy more with its interests. It gives India more leverage with the US as it can force some changes in US policy on Pakistan. I am not sure this will happen on its own given that there are also people in the US bureaucracy who are pro-Pakistan. I think this is an opportunity for India to leverage US power to accomplish its interests in Af-Pak.
I firmly believe China is in a hybrid war with India to break it apart. It has joined Pakistan in the last decade or two, which has been trying to break India since independence (unsuccessfully). The only way this will stop is if India does the same to China and Pakistan. Start with Pakistan as it is the weaker of the two.
Here is interesting news:
“… The anti-Taliban sentiment had been intensifying in the region even before the insurgents captured Kabul. …”
It seems that RSS/BJP/Bajrang Dal and all other Hindu groups have suddenly found their ‘mojo’
Indian economy is already in the doldrums. Modi should form an all India “NAMO Commando Sena”, wherein every Hindu unemployed from the ages of 18-60 can join.
Two months of their army training and India should send the above group of ‘Hindu He-mans’ to reclaim POK, Aksai Chin and even make Afghanistan a part of ‘Akhand Bharat’
If the aforesaid mission is successful then RSS vision of India being a ‘Vishvguru’ will be accomplished. If it fails then the Hindu brave hearts will die a glorious death in the name of Bharat Mataa.
@ whatsinitanyway- Indian troops wouldn’t have made any difference to the situation in Afghanistan.
USA would have loved to see Indian troops getting into a mess in Afghanistan.
Not a conventional deployment… Just some Specialised platoons which could carry out abductions/assassinations etc. Against people which concerns us. Also I do not know why involvement in Afghanistan was NATO only … I gather by your logic the Americans would have loved UN peacekeepers as well,
It’s better to have partners(reliable) … reduces costs.
US already has NATO nations as partners. Army personnel from these nations (England, Germany etc.) were part of deployment in Afghanistan.
Exactly then why would USA want Indians getting into a mess in Afghanistan…
Any way we or they ‘would have could have’ doesn’t matter now.
US is no friend of India or for that matter anyone else.
India has a sizable trade surplus with the Americans largely because, Indian IT guys are available for a fraction of cost compared to their American counterparts.
Due to this a large number of US companies outsource their customer care, technical troubleshooting, tele marketing etc. work to India.
US would have loved Indian army in Afghanistan.
Indian troops wouldn’t have made the situation any better/worse but the Americans would have got someone to point fingers at and play blame games with.
An excerpt from the above article;
The government has told 31 opposition parties that its immediate priority is the evacuation of all Indians from Afghanistan, sources said on Thursday afternoon. Sources also said the government told the opposition the Taliban broke promises made during talks in Doha. This was during an all-party meet called by Prime Minister Modi to brief the opposition on the “critical” Afghanistan situation.
It seems that the Indian establishment is not in the good books of the Taliban as of now.